Walk 4 Water 5k Fundraiser to Take Place June 3rd

Community members are invited to join for a fundraiser 5k, activities, and an auction.


This year,25 students at Laguna Beach High School and Hough organized the West Coast walk on March 26th. (Photo courtesy of Susan Hough)

For the past 20 years, a former Loudoun County resident, Susan Hough, has been overseeing Walking 4 Water, a non profit organization that has now expanded to both sides of the country. Students, teachers, and families are welcome to join the yearly fundraiser 5k walk  this Saturday, June 3rd. Taking place at Morven Park in Leesburg Virginia, the walk itself is from 8:30 am to 10:30 am with activities and an auction until noon.

With the motto, “Water is Life,” Hough emphasizes her motivation to communicate the importance of a human need. “Outreach is about waking people up to what it is [like] to go without something that is [a] basic necessity of life,” Hough said.

Hough currently acts as the Youth Coordinator and President for Wisdom Spring, Inc., with a fundraising program, “Walking For Water,” which has placed over thirty-five wells in isolated villages in indigenous communities throughout Africa and India. Being not only the President of Wisdom Spring, Inc, but also the Youth Coordinator, Hough has been able to put action to many of her ideas, something she likes to call “living your gifts.” After an encounter with a book that sparked an extensive amount of inspiration in her life, enough to drive her to working with Walking For Water.

All of the work leads back to Sobonfu Somé, author of the book which inspired Hough, Welcoming Spirit Home. One of Hough’s favorite stories to tell about Sobonfu is about her trip from Africa to the United States. Sobonfu grew up walking long distances to bodies of water, filling a jug and walking it back home. While in the US, she was astonished by some miracle; continuous flow of water from faucets. Her time here, brought upon her writing of books, as she was able to see the flow of water, and began her mission to bring representation to her communities struggles.

After discovering Sobonfus work, Hough spent time trying to reach out and invite Sobonfu to come speak about her mission at her Houghs daughter’s school. At the time Hough had a daughter in her freshman year at Heritage High School who was able to gather a small group of students to listen and learn. One student from the group approached Hough after the meeting and said, “if they can walk for water, we can walk for water.” This sentence, along with the help of many actions taken after, gave birth to Walking For Water back in 2003. From there, a group of teens came together and held the first, now annual walk, raising about $65,000. 

A portion of the organization’s progress comes from the work the students involved input. “I’m motivated, happy and blessed to be able to work with our youth, because they motivate me to do better in the world… And I feel like every kid that I work with has a special gift to give to the world. Our project enhances youth to bring the gift forward, and make a difference,” Hough said. 

This school year, a titan was exposed to a club active at a friend’s school and made the decision to bring it here, starting Dominion’s Walking For Water club chapter. Student Sarah Jabra introduced the fundraising and education program that quickly began planning. Olivia Columbel and Callie Stravinski, staff reporters for DHSPress are members of the club. All year long, the club,  plans for their major event, a 5k walk. The yearly walk is a fundraising event contributing to the building of the water wells. 

As the club has continued to expand in the county, students have been able to expand their knowledge on current events. “Everyone in Walking For Water wants to help educate and expand the club which makes it easier for the kids a part of the organization to form bonds with each other. Implementing the club in more high schools will make it easier to reach our goals and build more wells for people in need,” Sydney Green, an avid member of Dominions Walking For Water club said.

Now clubs are active at four high schools in Loudoun County being Tuscarora, Heritage, Independence and Dominion. There is also a club at Laguna Beach High School in California. Far in distance, but close in communication, Laguna Beach was able to begin a club following Hough’s previous move to the area. With the work from all of the schools, the organization has been able to raise over $450,000 that’s been put towards the building of 45 wells.

In her junior year at Heritage High School, Cayla Manoski, currently acts as the president of her schools Walking For Water club. “Walking For Water is truly anything you make it, you can be an artist and make portraits for our auction or you can participate in a radio show,” Manoski said. “I highly recommend joining for those who strive to serve their community and are driven to save lives.”

Once a week the high-school leaders join together on a Zoom call with Hough that consists of around ten people: the presidents of the club chapters, club officers and members. Every Saturday, the members in attendance are informed about important updates and then share upcoming plans and brainstorm ideas to implement at meetings. Attending a club meeting can look very different, as some consist of making different forms of art for the auction at the walk, going over new information and updates, talking as a group via Zoom with Susan Hough, discussing new ideas for the club or a common activity at Heritage meetings, create fliers or posters to put up around the school. Becoming a member provides students with a way to not only receive community service hours but also gain perspective on things often taken for granted such as supply of clean water. Dominions Walking For Water club meets one time per month, often on Thursdays, at 8:45 a.m. in room L309. For more information, students can visit their instagram account @dom.w4w or reach out to President Sarah Jabra.

The organization has been able to place wells in Burkina Faso, Ghana, Kenya and India and plans continue creation elsewhere. “[We are] working towards [building] two wells in India, North and South India. And at least five wells in Togo, because we haven’t been to West Africa in a long time,” Hough said.

For those unable to attend the 5k, virtual donations are accepted.