HUDSONVILLE, Mich.-- Thousands of runners will lace up for the Grand Rapids Marathon Sunday, October 15th.
Among them is a local man who, not only made a drastic change to improve his health, but is also working to bring change to third world countries.
Mike Morren is part of a group of members from Daybreak Church in Hudsonville who is running for a bigger mission: to bring one of the basic, human necessities to a village of people halfway around the world.
“Put one foot in front of the other," Morren said. It's a simple concept that led to his amazing transformation.
Morren wasn't always a runner but, after turning 40 and weighing more than 300 pounds, he made the decision to drop weight. Running was the way to do it.
"The first year I ran fifteen 5Ks all over west Michigan.”
But, it went further after learning he could make an even bigger difference through Hope Water International.
"We are a non-profit, faith-based organization that has a simple mission, and our mission is to provide access to clean water to those who need it most," explained fellow church member and runner, Ron Bussa.
"And, we focus on the African continent.”
For the past 25 weeks, the two men train with their group Saturday mornings at Johnson Park in Kent County, all while raising money to build more wells.
"Typically, $10,000 provides a clean water well and clean water to about 700 people in Africa," Bussa explained.
"I've been to Sierra Leone and, personally, seen and witnessed the impact of providing clean water and what it can do to for a community or a village in Africa. I've touched the well we placed with the dollars we have raised and participated and played soccer with kids who now have access to clean water.”
Knowing that health is something we shouldn't take for granted, it explains why Morren is so passionate about helping those less fortunate achieve the same thing.
"Just the pictures of these kids so happy seeing clean water coming out of these wells just makes my heart sing," Morren said.
The church hopes to raise $150,000 this year and, so far, they are near that goal.