Brittney Lofthouse – Staff Writer

Almost two billion people in the world do not have access to clean drinking water. No other single intervention is more likely to have a significant impact on global poverty than the provision of clean water.  This is what inspired Bryce Matteson, Founder/Lead Marathon Runner of Run 5050, to take action and run 50 marathons in all 50 states in order to fund 50 clean water projects for Healing Waters International.

Coming off of a marathon in Atlanta, Ga., and before running one in Knoxville, Tenn., Matteson will be in Franklin on Thursday to talk with individuals interested in supporting him along his journey and raising awareness and taking donations for Healing Waters International.

“We have always looked at this as being a stewardship thing for us,” said Cory McCall, co-owner of Outdoor 76 in Franklin. “When we heard about what Bryce was doing, we knew that we had the contacts with companies and manufacturers that could help him along his journey. As a business, we are always open to these types of opportunities to give back. We know we are just a small part of what Bryce is going, but we are grateful to play even a small role in what he is trying to accomplish.”

Outdoor 76 will be hosting Matteson on Thursday night to give him a platform to talk with the community about Healing Waters International and how he has a goal of raising $750,000. Outdoor 76 is also sponsoring Matteson by providing him with the equipment and supplies he needs to be a successful marathon runner.

“After having the opportunity to travel and visit Healing Waters’ project sites in Latin America, I had the overwhelming sense that I needed to do more,” said Matteson. “Running has always been a part of my life and it is a passion and gift that I was given and I wanted to challenge myself and inspire others to be a part of something larger than yourself. Water is a basic human need and I am going to devote the next year of my life to making sure that more people are given access to clean water because they are worth it. The change that clean water is bringing to these people, these communities, and the world is invaluable.”

Ahead of Matteson’s stop in Franklin, he discussed what challenges he has met so far and what drives him to push through.

“There are a few things that are the most challenging for me,” said Matteson. “One being the fact that I am constantly in recovery and preparation mode. While the actual feat of running a marathon is a real challenge by itself, the secret challenge is having the discipline to make sure I maintain my body for a whole year is tough. The regimen of stretching and foam rolling and other resources I use to keep my body ready to run can be time consuming. And keeping a nutritious diet isn’t always easiest thing to do.  So it’s making decisions every day to keep my body in proper form that is hard for me.  As a runner my whole life, most of the time I straight out don’t want to stretch and eat heathy, but it’s those small things that will enable me to continue doing what I’m doing.”

Matteson began his journey earlier this year and will be competing for the majority of the year. His last race is scheduled for Dec. 10, in Honolulu Hawaii.

“That will be be my final race. And it’s Hawaii, so that will be amazing anyways,” Matteson said of one of the things he is most looking forward to. “But I’m sure at that point I will be ready for a break from running. I am also looking forward to running back in my home in South Bend, Ind. Having friends and family around will be special.”

The idea behind Matteson running marathons to raise money for Healing Waters International is symbolic. The miles he is running, are miles that so many people in the world have to travel on a regular basis just to have access to drinking water. By the time he is finished, Matteson will have run 1,310 miles.

“The biggest message I am hoping to convey is that there is a huge need for providing clean and safe water to millions of people in the world, and we can actually do something about it. I’m not running 50 marathons this year to say, “look what I can do,” he said. “But in doing something that seems crazy, show that everyone deserves clean and safe water. And hopefully inspire everyone who hears about what I am doing to do something a little crazy to get involved in helping by donating. Even if that means running a 5K or 10K or Half Marathon, the struggle is nothing compared to what millions of people struggle through day in and day out who have no way to access safe water. After seeing the process Healing Waters International uses for purification and hearing firsthand stories of children who, instead of being sick every day, get to go to school, I couldn’t sit back and do nothing. I was given the gift to be able to run, so this is the platform I will use to speak for those who don’t have a voice.”

Healing Waters International’s mission is to end the global water crisis. They build holistic clean water solutions and spread God’s love in at-risk communities around the world, empowering people not just to survive, but to thrive – physically, socially and spiritually.

Outdoor 76 isn’t the only business in Franklin supporting Healing Waters International. Drake Software is also committed to raising money for the organization. For every tax return filed on 1040.com, Drake Software donates $2 to clean water projects through the organization.

“We give to Healing Waters International because we have been blessed and we want to help others who desperately need water,” said Phil Drake, owner of Drake Software. “In addition, we are familiar with this ministry and we have seen firsthand the work they do.”

More than just raising money for Healing Waters, Drake has sent employees who have volunteered to work alongside the staff at Healing Waters to complete projects in countries around the world to improve water quality and increase access to safe water.

The public is invited to Outdoor 76 on Thursday from 5:30 to 8:30 to meet Matteson, offer words of encouragement, or just to find out more about his journey.

For more information about Matteson’s journey, visit run5050.org or follow along on instagram @run.5050.  If you are interested in running a race or doing something else to  help raise money for Healing Waters International, email Bryce at bryce@run5050.org.

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