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Michigan man to run from Santa Monica to New York for Lifewater

On the first day of January or shortly thereafter, people across the country will be making New Year’s resolutions to exercise more and get themselves into better shape. But they’ll have a tough time matching Daren Wendell. The 33-year-old long distance runner from Kalamazoo, Mich. will kick off 2015 by running a marathon a day for 100 consecutive days, completing a journey from Santa Monica, Calif. to Manhattan, N.Y.

“I’ll be starting on New Year’s Day at the Santa Monica Pier in Santa Monica, Calif. and finish on April 10 at Times Square in New York City,” he said.

Wendell isn’t running 26 miles a day for 14 weeks to get in shape. He is doing it as a fundraising effort to raise donations for Lifewater International, a Christian non-profit organization that has provided clean drinking water, sanitation facilities and hygiene education to more than 1.5 million impoverished people in 50 countries.

Wendell is running specifically to raise money for a Lifewater project in the Borena region of southeastern Ethiopia, where 22 percent of children under five perish due to diseases caused by unsafe drinking water, a lack of sanitation facilities, and poor hygiene.

“Running is a spiritual experience for me,” Wendell said, adding that every fundraising mile he runs will help Lifewater build new drinking water and sanitation facilities and work with local groups to provide health and hygiene information, all of which will benefit more than 30,000 Ethiopians.

Wendell also hopes to generate increased awareness of Lifewater, which has ongoing water, sanitation and hygiene education projects in Uganda, Malawi and the Democratic Republic of Congo and other impoverished regions throughout the world.

“I invite people to run with me,” Wendell said.

His route, which is posted on www.rundarenrun.com, began Jan. 1 at Santa Monica Pier and goes across the high desert through Flagstaff, Ariz., following old Route 66, before heading northeast toward New York City. During the first days of his journey he will be running through Claremont, Colton, Banning and Morongo Valley.

While Wendell is likely to encounter snow and subfreezing temperatures, he said he is used to running in snow and inclement weather, having spent much of his life in the Upper Midwest.

Wendell co-founded an organization called Activewater six years ago, which is now powered by Lifewater.

For more information about Wendell’s run across America, visit www.rundarenrun.com.

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Lifewater International is a non-profit Christian water development organization dedicated to effectively serving vulnerable children and families by partnering with underserved communities to overcome water poverty. With experience in more than 40 countries since 1977, Lifewater serves people of all faiths, focusing on contextually appropriate water sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) development. For more information, contact Christine Zurbach (czurbach@lifewater.org) or visit www.lifewater.org. Lifewater International is based in San Luis Obispo, CA.