The First Annual Cuthbertson Water Walk: Building Wells to Change Lives

John Bagdasarian (left) and part of his team from Cuthbertson High School (Photo by D.M. Wallace)

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The first annual Cuthbertson Water Walk raised more than $3000 on Saturday to support the building of wells in impoverished regions of South Sudan.

The Water Walk is the brainchild of John Bagdasarian, a seventh grader at Cuthbertson Middle School, who pitched the fundraiser at a board meeting earlier in the year.  Ashley Jane McIntyre, an educator at Cuthbertson High School, heard Bagdasarian’s idea at the meeting and knew that she wanted to help.

Bagdasarian spoke to McIntyre’s high school class and soon after, his humanitarian idea began to materialize.  With the help of Cuthbertson’s Environmental Club and an inspired community, Bagdasarian’s determination made the event a major success, raising what he reports to be even more than that necessary to build a well in South Sudan. Cuthbertson High School plans to make the event an annual tradition.

Some of the participants at the first annual Cuthbertson Water Walk. (Photo by D.M. Wallace)

Bagdasarian said that his inspiration arose from required reading in his middle school english class in which he and his classmates read “A Long Walk to Water” by Linda Sue Park.  The book is a true depiction of the life of Salva Dut, founder and senior advisor for Water for South Sudan, told side-by-side with the story of Nya, a fictional girl that depicts the struggle for drinking water that the South Sudanese live with, walking miles, multiple times per day, to acquire water from often unclean sources.

“A Long Walk to Water” the novel by Linda Sue Park that inspired the Cuthbertson Water Walk (Photo by D.M. Wallace)

Bagdasarian knew, after reading the book, that he wanted to raise money for the Water for South Sudan charity, but he knew as well, that he wanted to somehow show just how physically taxing a walk for water could be.  That’s where the idea for the Water Walk comes in. Bagdasarian had participants raise money through sponsorship based on amounts of laps walked in typical fundraiser tradition, but this walk was different in one important way.

Participants started their walks out at a brisk pace with smiles on their faces; their laps soon became sluggish as the weight of the gallon jugs they carried quickly pulled them out of posture and into a determined grind.  Bagdasarian’s ability to simulate the struggle to obtain water for the South Sudanese turned an ordinary fundraising campaign into a touching and meaningful learning experience for  those whom a struggle for water may be an entirely foreign experience.

Water jugs used to show the physical toll of walking miles to fetch water each day (Photo by D.M. Wallace)

Bagdasarian’s team at Cuthbertson Middle and Cuthbertson High are aiming for a goal of $6000 dollars and with your help they will certainly reach it.  Clean and readily accessible water is something that we, in the United States, easily and often take for granted, but for some it is a struggle every day and the difference between life and death.

To donate to this noble cause and to help change the lives of families in South Sudan, please visit

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