“Water Boys” Run the California Coast for Clean Water in Ethiopia

It all started with a text message. Jose Valazquez, father of three in Arroyo Grande, California, received a text asking, “Would you want to do the 4x4x48 challenge?”

The 4x4x48 challenge was created by ex-Navy Seal David Goggins. It’s four miles every four hours 12 times, totalling 48 miles. It’s nearing ultramarathon territory, and Jose admitted he’s no ultramarathon runner.

He signed on anyway, building a team of seven along the way and pitching the idea, “Why not do it for Lifewater?” Jose first learned about Lifewater years ago at Five Cities Vineyard Church in Arroyo Grande, CA.

So it was set, between March 5 and March 7 the team would set out with a dual purpose in mind: Raise $15,000 for clean water in communities making long walks for water and raise awareness for local businesses hit hard by pandemic shutdowns.

David Pitts, Nick Stieb, Gilbert “Gibby” Escobedo, Jason Simonson, Jose Velazquez, Tyler Gillespi, and Scott Haigwood set out to do something big both locally and globally.

“We run so they don’t have to.” – Jose Velazquez

“We made a slogan, “We run so they don’t have to,” Jose said. “And we made up a name, ‘The Water Boys.’”

Running for Lifewater International
“Water Boys” on their run for safe water

While people don’t always run to collect their water, 1 in 10 people in the world lack basic access to safe drinking water, meaning it could make them sick, it takes them more than 30 minutes to get water, or both.

In sub-Saharan Africa, it’s estimated that 25 percent of the population spends 30 minutes or more walking for water, often multiple times each day.


It was these facts that compelled the team, seven dads with little running experience and busy lives themselves, to take on the 4x4x48 challenge. For Jose, the motivation is even simpler.

“The death rate,” he said. “My kids rarely finish their water bottles that they open up; it’s so easily accessible for us.”

“Knowing that people don’t have that access and that they’re dying because of it is just crazy to me,” he added. “There’s some things, you say, ‘Oh there’s nothing I can do about it,’ and with this, there’s something I can do.”

In the end, the Water Boys pushed through the pain of 48 miles in just 48 hours and raised $15,320 for safe water.

The kids set up a lemonade stand in Arroyo Grande to help their dads raise funds and cheer them on.

Water crisis support for Lifewater International
Children of the Water Boys advertise their lemonade stand

“They knew all the money they earned was going towards meeting our goal,” Jose said.

Jose says doing this with his kids was a special experience, and that the running felt so miniscule in comparison to the impact it would have for families in need.

“Knowing that you are able to help others in that way, to have that big of an impact… it strongly outweighs the work you have to do in running, the training, the being tired, the aches and pains,” he said. “It’s all worth it in the end.”

You can run for water just like Jose and his team. To do so, contact a lifewater representative.

Choose a Village. Change a Life.