Walk, run, ride for water

There won't be any turkeys in the Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving in Huntington Beach.

But as far as organizer Harvey Saarloos is concerned, thanks will be in order — and not just for the holiday meal ahead.

The Seal Beach resident is a member of Causelife, a Virginia-based nonprofit dedicated to providing clean water wells in developing countries. He and other local residents plan to start Thursday with a 5- to 10-kilometer walk around Huntington Beach, with all proceeds going to wells in Uganda, Guatemala or Haiti.

Saarloos and his friends have created a series of signs to post along the route that depict Third World water conditions. On a day when many people take the day off work and relax with their families, he intends them to be sobering reminders.

"I had those made so when the walkers or runners are going down the 5K or 10K, they would be thought-provokers," Saarloos said. "People might know why they're running or walking in our event, but by the time they finish the event, they will positively know why they walked or ran the event. They'll know where their money is going to go."

Saarloos' group already has more than 300 people signed up to walk, run or ride a longboard or skateboard. If 500 people pay the $35 entry fee ($40 on the day of the event), Causelife will raise enough money to drill two wells. According to the group, $35 will give two people fresh water for 20 years.

Co-organizer Dale Schmidt has been to Taiwan, Mexico, South America and other parts of the world and seen firsthand the effects of poor water conditions. In addition to water spreading disease, he said, the lack of an efficient well has a social impact: Young girls are often ordered by their families to fetch water instead of go to school.

"Where they're going to pick up water is just their streams or rivers, and it's very substandard," Schmidt said.

According to Causelife's website, the nonprofit has installed wells in India, Africa and Central America. Nine percent of funds the group raises go to administration and fundraising, with the remainder going directly to construction.

The Huntington Beach fundraiser will get a volunteer from the Interact Club at Valley Christian High School in Cerritos, which Saarloos visited in September to give a video presentation on Causelife. About 25 students are expected to run the registration tables and provide water — drinkable water — to participants.

Senior Taylor Nicholson, 18, said her club has visited El Salvador and Africa in the past to donate supplies, and found Causelife a perfect fit.

"Everyone kind of wanted to be a part of it," she said. "We could have taken on other projects for Thanksgiving and Christmas, but this one just felt right."

If You Go

What: Causelife 5K/10K Turkey Trot

Where: Beach Boulevard and Pacific Coast Highway, Huntington Beach

When: 5K/10K run, 7 a.m.; 5K/10K walk/run, 7:30 and 8:30 a.m.; 5K/10K longboard/skateboard event, 9:15 a.m.; 5K walk/run, 9:30 a.m. Thursday

Cost: $40

Information: (562) 430-5685

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