I’ve been a huge fan of the marquee New England Patriots offseason acquisitions this year because I think TE Martellus Bennett and DE Chris Long bring an interesting and outgoing approach to the social justice and community care that the Patriots preach as a franchise.
Long just published a great piece in The Players Tribune to raise awareness about the scarcity of clean water for communities in East Africa.
This is the story of how Long became involved:
“This whole idea for Waterboys started when I went to climb Mount Kilimanjaro in the winter of 2013,” Long writes. “When I got to Tanzania, I didn’t have any life-changing plans to create a foundation or anything. Honestly, I just wanted to climb the mountain. I hadn’t traveled a ton growing up. I was aware of poverty as we know it in America, but poverty on a scale like I found there struck me.”
“When you really see it, especially when you meet these wonderful, gracious people, who are just so unaffected by their situation, and so positive, you can’t shake this feeling,” Long adds. “The feeling for me was that I had had this beautiful experience on Kilimanjaro, and somehow maybe I could do my part in improving the place that gave me this experience. But then the enormity of the problem starts to overwhelm you. When I was leaving, I thought, I want to come back and help, but how?”
“I was celebrating the climb at the hotel bar when I heard the Joe Buck voice.
I turn around.
“It turns out that Joe was in Tanzania building a well with Doug Pitt (Brad Pitt’s brother). Doug is the goodwill ambassador to Tanzania and does a ton of meaningful work in the country. So we all sat down over a beer (or six) and talked about everything they were doing.
“When I got back to the States, I called up Doug and told him I wanted to get involved. In 2014, I saw the success of the Ice Bucket Challenge and how much awareness that brought about for ALS, and I thought, What if I could get the NFL behind clean water?
“So I set out with the goal of recruiting a ‘waterboy’ from every single NFL team to raise funds and build as many wells as possible.”
Perfect. All it takes to change the world is a little bit of Joe Buck and Brad Pitt’s brother to get the ball rolling.
So you might be wondering what Long’s organization does, or how it changes the community.
Here are the important stats:
$45,000: It costs this much to dig a new well to service a community of up to 7,500 people.
40,000,000,000 hours: The amount of time spent every year retrieving water by people living in Sub-Saharan Africa.
20%: Water-related diseases cause nearly 1 in 5 deaths of children under the age of 5.
50%: The percent of patients hospitalized from water-related diseases.
15 minutes: Reducing the distance to a water source by just 15 minutes results in a 12% increase in girls’ school attendance. Women are primarily responsible for retrieving water, and often have to bring their children. With clean water wells, they are able to attend school on a regular basis.
32: The number of wells that Long and company want to install, with each one representing a different NFL team.
14: The number of wells already created.
3rd: Chris Long’s rank for funds raised, behind his brother Kyle Long (1st) and Eagles linebacker Connor Barwin (2nd).
The wells can help with local agriculture, increase schooling, and improved health. Read about the organization’s mission here. Donate here, and don’t forget to donate to Long’s team so he can rise up the leaderboard.
Oh, and Chris, if you’re ever in Eastern Africa over the next year, just hit me up and I’ll swing by for a visit. 100% serious.