After 30 days the 2009 Bald Birthday Benefit came to an end yesterday with the shaving of my head. You helped me celebrate my 30th birthday by giving clean water to 130 people. Wow. That’s 4.5 times the original goal. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.
Thank you hardly begins to cover it. To the 57 people who donated, to everyone who spread the word, to those who helped with the videos and publicity, and to those who will continue to act, pray and give to those who lack clean water, thank you.
The joyous pictures below represent the changed and saved lives that you’ve made possible. 130 times over. Words are hardly fit to express the gratitude, but thank you.
My donation widget is gone, but if you’d still like to donate you can give directly to charity: water. (All pictures are from charity: water and their amazing photographers. You can check out their photo of the day on Twitter for more great images of lives changed through clean water.)
Clean water for 30 people in 30 days for my 30th birthday was the goal. You did that in six days, and went on to provide clean water for 130 people through charity: water. Amazing: Best birthday ever. Thank you.
On Sunday I carried five gallons of Mississippi River water (weighing 40 pounds) two miles from the river to my house. All to bring awareness and support to the one billion people throughout the world who don’t have access to clean water.
Water=life. If you’d like to do something, you can:
Donate. ($20 provides clean water to one person for 20 years, but donate whatever you like. Every bit helps. Donate now.
Pray. If that’s your thing you can say a prayer for the one billion people who don’t have access to clean water. Pray that the 4,500 children who will die today because they lack clean water wouldn’t have to.
Act. You don’t have to carry water or shave your head, but you can do something. Tell your friends about this issue. Support the Water for the World Act. Cut back on your own water usage (no, it won’t directly help those without water, but it’s an act of solidarity).
The Pioneer Press did a quick write-up on my Walk for Water stunt in today’s paper. Charity: water gets a nice mention and link, as does the Bald Birthday Benefit (now we can see what kind of bottom-line boost newspaper publicity offers). The article also mentions that we hit the $600-goal in only six days—so hats off to all you folks who helped us get there and those who have kept us going towards that crazy $5,000-goal.
Not a bad story, though I think I’ll win an award for dumbest quote of the year:
Lugging 40 pounds of water “will actually be fairly strenuous,” he said.
Actually? Fairly strenuous? Who is this idiot? Carrying 40 pounds of water two miles up the Mississippi River bluff is going to suck. It shouldn’t be impossible, but for a mostly sedentary guy like myself it won’t be a walk in the park. Guess I need to work on saying something quotable.
Moving on. As a bit of fact-checking nit-pickery, I’ll be carrying the 40 pounds of water two miles, not one mile as the article states. It’s two miles from the Mississippi River to my house. But I understand the confusion. I threw out a lot of information in the 15-minute call I had with the reporter. And I’m complicating things myself because I’m planning to drive down to the river and then walk back with the water. I realize it’s cheating a bit, but accuracy isn’t the goal here. Besides, I’d like to minimize the time and effort required of the folks going with me.
Anyway, it’s pretty cool to get some publicity like this. I hope it leads to more clean water for more people. Remember, it takes only $20 to provide one person with clean water for 20 years. Wish me a happy birthday and donate now. Thanks.
A couple weeks ago I took a walk. As part of this whole Bald Birthday Benefit raising cash and awareness about water, I’ve wanted to understand a tiny bit of what life is like for the more than one billion people in this world who don’t have easy access to clean water.
When I want clean water I turn to one of the 13 faucets in my house that offers water (that’s sinks, showers and outside spigots), usually with my choice of hot or cold water. The water is clean and pure and I pay very little for it (consequently, there’s little incentive to conserve).
The one billion people who live without clean water aren’t so lucky. Many of them walk as far as three hours per day to get water. And whatever water they need, they have to carry. Imagine spending three hours of your day hauling water back and forth. For every flush of the toilet or extra minute you spend in the shower, imagine if you had to walk three hours to get that water. And the water they get isn’t exactly clean. It’s usually chock full of parasites and disease, killing 42,000 people every week.
So tomorrow will mark the halfway point in this little head-shaving, water-fundraising experiment called the Bald Birthday Benefit. Of course we hit the goal last week, raising $600 and giving clean water to 30 people in only six days. With my birthday still a few weeks away, we upped the goal to a ridiculous $5,000 to see how much more we could raise. At this point, every extra buck is just gravy since I’m still shaving my head for hitting the original goal of $600. And it’s all going to an amazing cause—charity: water.
I’ve been trying to spread the word about the Bald Birthday Benefit any way I can. So far it’s happened primarily online through this blog, Twitter, Facebook and e-mail. I’ve got about 900 followers on Twitter, 600 Facebook friends and I e-mailed about 200 friends. My blog probably reaches the least number of people out of all those methods, and oddly enough, even though all those methods point to my blog, my blog traffic is going to be lower this month than it has in any of the past three months (that’s primarily thanks to weirdly popular entries, like can a state secede from the U.S. and banana allergies).
I’ve been trying to blog and tweet about this a lot, attempting to capture people’s attention and hopefully gain more donations. I realize there are very few people who read every blog post, tweet or Facebook update. It’s very easy to miss one, so I’ve been trying to up the volume in hopes of catching more people. It seems to work, though I’m also very leery of being annoying. There’s a fine line between increasing the frequency and increasing the annoyance factor.
So far we’ve raised $870 and enabled 43 people to throw their arms in the air like this. That’s awesome. That’s how I want to celebrate my 30th birthday. Let’s do it some more. Tell your friends. Write a blog post. Thumb a text message. Give a buck or two.
My water bill is about $85 every quarter. Sewer charges amount to about 75% of that. And I paid one-third to half as much when I lived in the city (my tiny suburb a mile away from downtown St. Paul gets gouged on sewer).
So that’s roughly $28 per month for clean water. And my water seems comparatively cheap. Last quarter my household used about 7,500 gallons of water (!) and we paid less than a third of a cent per gallon. My cost for water for 20 years (at current rates) is $6,800.
Hmm… I’ll pay $6,800 for water for 20 years. And I can give someone else water for 20 years for only $20. Or consider it monthly: I pay $28 per month for clean water. You can give clean water for 8.3 cents per month. What a deal! Consider taking advantage of that deal and giving someone water.
On day six of the 2009 Bald Birthday Benefit we hit the goal of $600. In a mere six days you folks have helped me celebrate my 30th birthday by giving clean water to 30 people through charity: water. That’s so cool. Thank you.
Oh, and of course, this means I’ll be shaving my head. No more looking like a TBN cohost. Not to disapoint anyone, but as a matter of procedure I won’t be shaving my head until June 13. I honestly (and foolishly) thought it would take us longer to hit the goal and didn’t plan on shaving until then. Plus, we’re getting family pictures taken in early June and my wife insisted I have hair for the pictures (apparently not this hair though). While she loves the benefit part of this idea, she hates the baldness part, so she wins that debate. But don’t worry. On June 13 baldness will ensue.
The New Goal: A Well
Now on to business. I thought this thing would actually take 30 days and here we’re done after only six. What do we do now? We keep going, that’s what we do. I’ve still got a birthday coming up and there are still people out there without clean water. So let’s keep giving it to them.
Apparently I severely underestimated you people with my goal of $600, so it’s time to dream big. It’s time to go for a crazy, audacious, stupid goal. According to the folks at charity: water it costs about $5,000 to put in a new well in Ethiopia. We’re not set up to earmark these donations for a specific well in Ethiopia, but it still makes a great goal. A ridiculous goal.
So we’ve got 24 more days. Let’s see if we can build a well. Not for baldness, since that’s already assured, but for more water.
And again, thank you: Best. Birthday. Ever. (and it’s still a month away)
I think charity: water does some good work. One of the coolest things they do is bring you closer to the people they help with pictures, stories and videos. One of my favorite videos is this little 5-minute clip taken when charity: water was drilling wells in Ethiopia this spring as part of the Twestival.
In the video a few Internet geeks decide to carry 5-gallon jerry cans on their backs just like the people of Ethiopia do every day. Obviously carrying that water didn’t help anybody, but it made those well-off Americans understand what not having clean water really means. It made the situation personal (and painful), something Shane Claiborne often talks about (Don’t make poverty history, make poverty personal).
At the very end of the video they show an 11-year-old girl carrying the same 5 gallons of water. She does that every day. You can help change that.