John and Jean Kingston have been friends of the French family ever since John met David back at Harvard Law School in the early 1990s. Over our years of friendship, we’ve had too many adventures to recount. Most pertinently, John and Jean founded “SixSeeds,” a small mom and pop magazine for friends which helped parents figure out effective ways to serve together, to transfer values from generation to generation, and to have a great deal of fun in the process.
Well, it’s inspiring to see their family strive to reach all of these goals. The Boston based SixSeeds, as you may have noticed, has now grown into the SixSeeds Faith and Family Channel at Patheos — one of the world’s largest religious websites. In fact, if you read this blog, you’ve benefited from their vision and generosity without realizing it!
Recently, I got an e-mail from Jean, and I knew they were up to another adventure. In keeping with the spirit of the original SixSeeds mission, their family is trying to raise $40,000 for people in Sudan who have no water.
So far, so good.
But the way they’re raising the money involves running. A great deal of running.
Of course, I had to get to the bottom of this, and Jean was kind enough to reply.
Read the interview below to find out how you can join in on this life-giving fun.
SIXSEEDS: What on earth is the Kingston family doing in August?
At the end of August – John and Caitlin Kingston (20) will be running…alot. They will be joining a World Vision team of ten others to run in the largest relay race in the world called Hood to Coast (from Mt. Hood Oregon to the seacoast). Their team will cover 198 miles in less than 32 hours. It will be hard, fun, relatively sleepless and a bit crazy. Jean was scheduled to run as well, but suffered an ankle injury while training – so instead of running, she’ll be taking their three other kids — Annalise (18), Christopher (14) and William (11) — to Mexico to visit the World Vision community they befriended years ago.
SIXSEEDS:. Which family members are going, and why make it a family affair?
Though it’s Caitlin and John who will be going, the entire family has been involved in fundraising. Just last week, the boys ran a lemonade stand that raised $136 for the cause.
SIXSEEDS: How far exactly will they be running?
Depending on the position on the team they’re assigned, John and Caitlin will be covering between 14 and 20 miles (divided into three legs). Some of it will be very hilly!
SIXSEEDS: Is it even safe to run at night on rocky terrain? Are you ALL trying to get ankle injuries?
One of their legs will be in the middle of the night so the runners are required to put a headlamp on and keep up the pace. They will be running with 12,000 other runners – so if there is really safety in numbers, they will be super safe!
SIXSEEDS:. How did you get connected with World Vision?
We have been involved with World Vision ever since our girls were young when we sponsored two children. Our number of sponsored children has grown to 10. Back in 2006, our family traveled with World Vision to Tijuana, Mexico for the first of five service trips to a squatter community called Las Palmas set on the dry hillsides. We tried our best to help during the handful of days we spent there – cleaning up a school, scraping glue and paint off desks and chairs, planting some shrubs, and taking inventory of what school supplies and cleaning supplies they might need for the year. As these things often go, we weren’t nearly as helpful to them as they were to us. This experience was life-changing for our family. We all came face to face with our privilege and had to come to terms with life’s innate “unfairness” and what we as a family would do about it. We decided to go back to Las Palmas as much as we could, while also trying to think of other ways to help. A few years ago, we packed hundreds of backpacks full of school supplies so that the children would be ready to tackle the school year. This year, we’ll bring down craft supplies for their community center and as many soccer balls as we can.
SIXSEEDS: Why do you have a heart for South Sudan?
Our hearts are truly for the poor, not for any specific area of the world. When World Vision asked us to run to help raise money for those without water, we jumped on the opportunity to help out. Life without clean water? It is unimaginable here in the US. We are moved to help families who don’t have basic necessities.
SIXSEEDS: How much money are you trying to raise, and how much money does it take to really make a difference in people’s lives there?
Our goal was originally $30,000 ($10,000 each for the three Kingston runners). When Jean couldn’t run, she decided to take on the role of Chief Fundraiser instead. We reached our goal on August 1st with the help of truly the most generous group of family and friends anyone could ever have. We decided to keep up the pace with two weeks left and raised our goal to $40,000. Presently, any donation will be matched (up to $5000) – so it’s a great time to contribute because money will be doubled. World Vision builds wells in these communities so that fresh water is easily accessible to those that used to walk many miles to retrieve water which we would find undrinkable. These wells change the lives of families and communities, because instead of spending entire days carrying heavy buckets of dirty water to their families, women can grow crops, raise lifestock and take care of the home, while children can actually attend school. $50 provides water for one person for a lifetime! I cannot think of a better way of making a difference with $50!
SIXSEEDS: We hear there are some famous runners who’ll be joining you on your trek. Can you tell us who they are?
There are ten professional runners on the five World Vision Teams. Three time Olympian Jim Ryun is one of them. He was the first person to break the 4-minute mile in HS competition. Another Olympic athlete, Lopez Lomong will also be running. He’s from South Sudan and has an unbelievable story. At age six he was abducted during the Second Sudanese War, but with the help of some other boys managed to escape captivity. This group of four boys ran for three days until they crossed the border into Kenya. He lived in a refugee camp for ten years until a couple from the US took him in. His running career began in HS and has taken off. He’s been in the 2008 and 2012 Summer Olympics, running in many mid-distance races. He has notoriously been an advocate for his home country. We are proud to be running with such stellar athletes as these – all running for a common cause, albeit, some faster than others….
SIXSEEDS: How can we help provide water in conjunction with your run?
We’d love donations in any amount for this clean water campaign for South Sudan. We feel blessed and want to do something to bless others. We hope you’ll join Team Kingston. Click here to donate!
Watch this World Vision video called “Water is Life,” and please consider donating to the cause.
Stay tuned for an update on how the Kingstons fared on this journey!