Steve Spear Quits Job as a Willow Creek Pastor to Run Across America to Provide Clean Water for People In Kenya

A former Chicago pastor is gearing up for the run of his life.

Forty-nine year-old Steve Spear  recently quit his job as a Willow Creek pastor after 15 years, to focus on raising $1.5 million to provide clean water for 30,000 people living in Kenya.

Spear is planning a cross-country fundraising run from Southern California to New York City.

Spear only took up long-distance running five years ago and has already completed countless marathons and ultra-marathons -- but has never done anything like this before. He will attempt to run a marathon a day for five months, from coast to coast.

Spear will start his quest on April 8, 2013 from the Santa Monica Pier on the Pacific Ocean, finishing up five months later in August in New York City.

Spear says his former senior pastor at Willow Creek, Bill Hybels is planning to run with Steve on the final leg of the cross-country odyssey into New York City. Spear will seek support from churches along the way.

Spear will run 3,200 miles, averaging a marathon a day for 5 months, will consume 6,100 calories a day, and go through 10 pairs of running shoes.

Nearly a billion people worldwide lack access to safe water, 6,000 children die each day from diarrheal diseases caused by unsafe water and basic sanitation facilities, and 443 million school days per year are lost to water-related illness.

Spear intends to make a difference for some of those without clean, safe drinking water by bringing hope for 30,000 people with his run across America.

He is partnering with World Vision, a Christian humanitarian organization dedicated to working with children, families and their communities worldwide by tacking the causes of poverty and injustice.

Spear says on an event-related website, "30 years ago some friends twisted my arm and convinced me to run a 10K. I hated every minute of that 10K experience and didn't lace up a pair of running shoes for another 25 years. 

"But that all changed in 2007 when I sensed a whisper to surrender myself to the unknowns that come with training for and running the Chicago Marathon with Team World Vision. Through groups much like my own church team, thousands of Team World Vision runners have raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for clean water in Africa.

"That event ignited something in me, and I began to sense an increasing call to devote myself more to running and the idea that running can change lives." 

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Michael Ireland
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