World record holder encourages students to aid the thirsty

| November 15, 2016 | 0 Comments

 

Katie Spotz, left, talks with students at Sacred Heart Catholic School in Robbinsdale after her presentation there Nov. 15. Dave Hrbacek/The Catholic Spirit

Katie Spotz, left, talks with students at Sacred Heart Catholic School in Robbinsdale after her Nov. 15 presentation. Dave Hrbacek/The Catholic Spirit

Record-breaking rower Katie Spotz illustrated for Catholic school students in Robbinsdale what finishing her solo journey across the Atlantic Ocean felt like.

“I felt like I was winning an Emmy, completing a marathon and being released from solitary confinement all at once,” Spotz said.

Spotz, who, at 22, became the youngest person to row across the Atlantic in 2010, told the Sacred Heart Catholic School students Nov. 15 that something more than a world record motivated her. She did it to raise money for people around the world who don’t have clean drinking water.

“One in eight people, they don’t have something I always take for granted, something that I’ve never gone without — clean water,” said Spotz, an Ohio native who also has swam the length of the Allegheny River in New York and Pennsylvania.

Spotz explained that 1 billion people live without clean water in Latin America, southeast Asia and Africa. She also emphasized that children in some countries walk up to 8 miles round-trip to get water. They carry it home in large plastic jugs that weigh up to 40 pounds. And the water normally comes from muddy water sources.

Sacred Heart students have an idea of what collecting such water is like. In October, they tried hauling water from a lake in milk jugs. A student could dump some of the water to lighten the load, but could not go back to get more if he or she became thirsty.

“We let them know that those of you who carried back, you would have water for your family,” said Kathy Walsh, a middle school math and religion teacher at Sacred Heart. “Those of you who are tired and dumped the water, that’s what would happen if you lived in Africa if it was too much for you to carry.”

That experience and reading “A Long Walk to Water” by Linda Sue Park — which ties the story of one of Sudan’s “Lost Boys” to the country’s lack of clean water — raised the students’ awareness about the world’s water crisis. Spotz’s presentation took the issue to another level with its global view.

“I thought it was just Africa, but it’s a lot of other countries besides Africa,” said Anna Wolf, a Sacred Heart eighth grader.

Spotz aimed to encourage students to do what they can to aid relief to the global water crisis. She gave the presentation as an ambassador for the Minnesota-based nonprofit H2O For Life, which works to help people without clean water worldwide.

Sacred Heart eighth-grader Leathe Talbot said he learned, “that we can help out the people with dirty water and purify the water [and] that we can prevent disease [in] drinking water.”

Students will help raise money for a clean water well in the Sudan, an $8,000 expense. St. Joseph Catholic School in Waconia, which also hosted Spotz Nov. 14, will help the Sudan project, too. Frassati Catholic Academy in White Bear Lake is also a partner.

Sacred Heart Principal Karen Bursey tied the initiative to a corporal work of mercy — giving drink to the thirsty. Her school partnered with Frassati and St. Joseph in the project because all three have STEM programs.

“We just tied that into this water crisis,” Bursey said. “I think kids don’t think twice about water — that it is a problem in other countries.”

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