LIBERTY, Mo. (ABP) — Big Muddy/Clean Water, a campaign to raise money for clean water in Ethiopia connected to the Missouri River 340 race, recently received a $5,000 grant by the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship of Missouri. The grant will be used to promote the effort as well as adding to the project’s fundraising goal of $20,000.
Josh Arnone and Jason Nazario, both from Columbia, Mo., are competing in the July 22-25 race to raise awareness of the need for sustainable and healthy water sources in Ethiopia, as well as to raise money to build water wells through Water is Life International, a 501(c)3 dedicated to providing access to clean water. More than 59 million people in that country do not have access to safe water and live on less than $2 a day.
The grant award was announced at CBF Missouri’s General Assembly in April in Liberty, Mo. Arnone and Nick Foster, who chairs a support committee for the team, accepted the check. The grant came from a
CBF of Missouri Giving Circle in which members donated $50 each and then voted on the disbursement.
“You all are awesome,” Arnone said in accepting the check. “Jason and I could not possibly do this without all of you.”
“This is a huge vote of confidence and support for us,” Foster said. “This money will not only help us promote what we are doing, but will go a long way toward reaching our goal.”
The Missouri 340 is an endurance race across the state of Missouri. Competitors start in Kansas City and finish in St. Charles, near St. Louis, launch point of the Lewis and Clark expedition up the Missouri River in 1804.
Dotted with numerous towns and hamlets, the Missouri River courses through some of the most scenic wildlife in North America, but paddlers have little time to enjoy the view. Participants have 88 hours to complete the course, an accomplishment in itself. Just two-thirds of the teams achieved the goal last year.
There are no dams, locks or portages on this stretch of the Missouri, the current is about 3 miles per hour and there are no rapids, but the race isn’t without peril. The biggest hazards are motorboats, mostly fisherman, and an occasional towboat pushing barges. In-river obstacles include wing dikes, buoys and bridge pilings.
Arnone, 26, and his wife, Annie, lead the youth ministry of their church, Little Bonne Femme Baptist in Columbia. He has an undergraduate degree in mechanical engineering and is working on a Ph.D.
Nazario, 28, has worked with the University of Missouri since 2001, and currently is employed at University Hospital in Columbia.
The duo decided to take on the Missouri River 340 after their first “extreme outdoor challenge” last year, a three-day mountain-climbing adventure in Colorado. The same day Nazario approached Arnone about their next challenge, Harold Phillips, coordinator of Missouri CBF, learned of their mountain climbing and asked if they would be interested in the 340-mile race, not knowing that the two had already made plans to participate.
“Although I’ve been canoeing many times, the MR 340 competition will be my first trip down the Missouri river,” Arnone said. “As excited as we are about this challenge before us, Jason and I are even more excited to be a part of something much bigger — helping to provide safe drinking water to many who are currently without.”
CBF of Missouri made another major donation to the cause, at the same meeting, through the collection of shoes. Working with Shoeman Water Projects in St. Louis, churches, schools and individuals from across the state collected more than 8,000 pairs of old and new shoes. As a result, Shoeman, who works with water projects around the world, made a contribution of $1,656 toward Big Muddy/Clean Water’s goal.
Bob Allen is managing editor of Associated Baptist Press. This story includes information from a Cooperative Baptist Fellowship press release.