Blugolds raise funds for safe drinking water systems around the world

| Diane Walkoff

Water. It's a necessity of life that most of us take for granted. Unfortunately, for millions of people around the world, safe drinking water is a luxury — and the health consequences of drinking contaminated water can be devastating.

A number of Blugold students and faculty are keenly aware of this tragic circumstance. Members of the Student National Environmental Health Association (SNEHA) recently decided to pitch in and do their part to help increase the availability of safe drinking water to remote areas of the world.

When forming a relay team for the May 1 Eau Claire Marathon and deciding on a cause for which to raise funds, members of SNEHA chose Crabtree Scientific, a company that develops water chlorination systems for communities worldwide.

Led by Brian and Heidi Crabtree, the company caught the SNEHA students' attention during the Minnesota National Environmental Health Association conference in January. The Crabtrees spoke about their efforts to install their water purification systems in communities that otherwise would not have access to it — and they’ve used their own money to do so.

Dr. Laura Suppes, assistant professor of environmental public health in UW-Eau Claire's Watershed Institute for Collaborative Environmental Studies and a SNEHA faculty adviser, said that the SNEHA students were deeply moved by the Crabtrees’ presentation.

"SNEHA wants to ensure that Brian and Heidi are able to continue their cause to bring safe drinking water to as many people as possible," Suppes said. "We are beyond excited students chose to run for a cause so meaningful to public health."

SNEHA was the fundraising leader among numerous Blugold student organizations raising funds in partnership with the Blugold Mile at the Eau Claire marathon, ultimately donating $2,000 to Crabtree Scientific. As an added bonus, a Rotary Club in Rochester, Minnesota, donated matching funds to the company, for a total of $4,000.

Brian Crabtree noted that the money raised will pay for four chlorinators, which can serve a town of 5,000 people. As a result of their fundraising efforts, SNEHA potentially prevented 20,000 people from contracting a waterborne illness.

Congratulations and thank you, Blugolds, for seeing the value in helping others well beyond your own backyards.

Photo caption: UW-Eau Claire SNEHA members present a "big check" to Brian Crabtree of Crabtree Scientific. Pictured, from left, are Brian Crabtree and SNEHA members Ian Wetzel, Pete Husnik (relay member), Bre Rheinschmidt (relay member), Ginny Young (relay member), Jesse Kreger (relay member), Jenna Ouradnik (relay member), Rachel Kennedy (relay member) and Amy Arbetan.