Becca VandeGriend has served thousands of patients across Michigan as a radiology physician’s assistant for the past 20 years. During the pandemic, the Grand Rapids resident has been on the frontlines, providing lifesaving treatment for the region’s COVID-19 patients.
VandeGriend and her family are now directing efforts of a different kind to help those affected by the new coronavirus around the world. Starting Saturday, she will be leading West Michiganders in World Vision’s Virtual Global 6K for Water, a worldwide charity event with the purpose of raising thousands of dollars in donations for the organization’s global clean water access programs.
As a member of Team World Vision for a number of years, VandeGriend has run the London and Grand Rapids marathons and a Comrades Marathon — a 55-mile race in South Africa. Because of those efforts, she was able to support 47 children through World Vision’s Child Sponsorship program.
VanderGriend said widespread access to clean water resources is one of the most critical methods for keeping people healthy and safe during the pandemic.
“As we’ve learned with COVID and all infectious disease, hand washing is important,” VanderGriend said. “In our country, it’s hard to imagine people who don’t have access to clean water or even a bathroom facility.”
The VandeGriend family has raised over $86,000 for World Vision’s global clean water access programs through the organization’s endurance charity events.
VandeGriend hopes the Virtual Global 6K this weekend will bring awareness of World Vision’s work to more people.
“Not everybody’s going to run a marathon, but everybody can walk or scooter, which my daughter’s going to do with me this weekend,” VandeGriend said.
The 6K race is symbolic of the average distance families in water-scarce parts of Sub-Saharan Africa must travel to find a water source, VandeGriend said.
“Usually it’s a dirty source, a pond or mud puddle that’s shared with animals,” she said. “World Vision comes in and brings in water within feet of their homes. Now they have the ability to get clean water, but the secondary impact is they also don’t have to walk far to get water and they’re free to go to school and learn.”
As a virtual event, the Global 6K for Water can be run by anyone, anywhere, whether alone or in teams.