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I'm Giving Up My 37th Birthday!

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"If there is magic on this planet, it is contained in water." - LORAN EISELY

I'm giving up my 37th Birthday and it has nothing to do with vanity or nearing the big 4-0. I couldn't care less about numbers as they pertain to my age. I do, however, care about age when it pertains to those throughout the world who don't make it to their 37th birthdays because of a lack of clean drinking water and proper sanitation.

As a goodwill ambassador for UNICEF and the founding ambassador for the Global Network, I've traveled to the field and seen firsthand the devastation left behind by waterborne illnesses. On these trips, I've run the gamut of emotions that range from mind-bending anger to heart-warming hope. Upon my return from the field, I count my blessings, and then as time passes, I become frustrated with myself that I'm not doing more to alleviate the pain of those I met on my journey.

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It is because of this very frustration that I decided to give up my birthday. I have everything I could ever want or need. All I want is to provide life-giving water for 10 communities, 500 families and 2,500 people. This is my Birthday wish. In lieu of spending money on a party or presents, I'm asking people to donate to my Charity: Water campaign and help make my wish come true.

Charity: Water is a grassroots non-profit that was founded in 2006. In just a little more than 3 years, they've engaged more than 75,000 donors around the world, and raised over $13 million for operations and water projects. 100% of public donations directly fund water projects. They've funded 1500 water projects in 16 countries that will serve over 800,000 people. Simply put, Charity: Water, funds clean water projects that save lives.

Currently, almost a billion people in the world don't have access to life's most basic need: clean and safe drinking water. That's 1 in 8 people on the planet. Over 200 million people right now have a water-related disease called schistosomiasis... It's a fancy word for parasites. Worms. When you see a heartbreaking photo of a malnourished child with an extended belly, that child most likely has this waterborne schistosomiasis and no matter what food or nutrients you give them, without proper medication and clean water they most likely will not survive.

As we take a sip of our water from the fridge and don't think twice about it, there are people that have to walk hours a day fetching unsafe water from remote areas. Imagine that. Imagine having to walk for hours and hours, every day, just to retrieve contaminated water that will most likely get you sick and maybe even kill you. And the time spent collecting this water, keeps children out of school and women from pursuing economic growth. Not having access to clean drinking water perpetuates the cycle of poverty.

No child should ever die from a preventable cause and 4,500 children will die TODAY from water-related illnesses. This year, in this country alone, we'll spend about 450 million dollars a year on presents, decorations and "stuff" for Christmas. That is enough to give everyone on earth clean, life-giving water, a couple of times over.

I believe it is innately within us, as warriors of the human spirit, to give to those less fortunate. Sometimes, we just don't know how to go about doing it. If this rings true for you, I encourage you to watch the below video, be inspired, and join me by starting your own holiday campaign today at http://www.charitywater.org/holidays.


WATCH:

The story of charity: water - The 2009 September Campaign Trailer from charity: water on Vimeo.