On January 31st, my son MacKay was invited to audition for the part of Billy in “On Golden Pond.” On the way to the Darien Community Center audition, we saw a sign. A literal, physical sign.
Always up for an adventure, we set out to investigate. Turns out, the event was being hosted by the Darien Youth Council in the same building as the audition. We took part in our first ever Guinness World Record—the largest linked-arm toast ever. We were 4 of 558 that participated that day, beating out the Honda Motor Company whose employees had previously set the record at 495.
In learning about the occasion, we discovered the Darien Youth Committee, led by teenagers from the community, were actively creating awareness and collecting donations to benefit Person to Person’s pantries. They exceeded expectations not only in the record they set, but by the donations that were given.
Even though our involvement was small, the day left a big impression on me. Here were youth engaged and giving of their time to others. In a world where instant gratification runs rampant, it was refreshing to see teens looking beyond their own circle to how they can positively influence other.
The community action was also astounding. In today’s busy world, it’s hard enough to get people together for dinner, let alone 558 people in one gym for a couple hours on a Saturday afternoon to bring awareness to a cause. It is an amazing testimony to the goodness of humanity and what a little effort from a determined group can accomplish.
My third and last thought runs in parallel with the work we do at Water For Life. We too are volunteering to raise awareness of a problem that is so foreign to most of the civilized world. Most people are surprised when they learn that billions of people live without clean water. The statistics are shocking. Somewhere in the world a person dies every 20 seconds from a waterborne disease.
As I stood in that gym and watched over 500 people twist open a water bottle and toast the person to their right, it once again made me realize how important our work is. That clean drink of water was so effortless and so easily taken for granted. We have no idea what it is like to drink dirty water for years and then to have a fresh, clean glass of water after a small, gravity-fed water filter arrives in a village. I can imagine, however, how it feels to see pictures of smiling recipients of our filters. Each letter or email or gratitude is priceless and fuels are desire to grow this cause.
Here’s hoping that all of us with catch the spirit of service and do what we can to help others in our own communities and in the vast world around us. We might not be setting any world records, but we are putting a drop in the bucket to improve health and save lives.
James Brown and family