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Team Shine helps raise $1.6 million for clean drinking water in Africa

Posted: Oct 16, 2012

Clad in orange T-shirts and running shoes, Shine.FM listeners and Olivet students, faculty, staff and alumni banded together to raise critical funding for World Vision through the 2012 Chicago Marathon. As Team Shine and part of Team World Vision (TWV), they helped raise a staggering total of $1.6 million that will be used to provide clean water to impoverished villages in Africa.

Team Shine launched at Olivet in April 2012 with the encouragement of two alumni: Rusty Funk ’07, Chicago area director for TWV, and Mike Chitwood ’93, who founded TWV in 2005 as a fundraising focus for World Vision.

First-time marathoners

Compelled by the stories of children in need, more than 70 Olivet students, faculty and staff signed up for the marathon — many of them running a race for the very first time.

“I’d always wanted to run a marathon, and TWV gave me a great cause and motivation to train and do it,” says Blake Swanson ’13 of Columbus, Ohio, a youth ministry major. “Running to save lives was my motivation.”

Using the six-month training plan recommended by TWV, they learned how to conquer both the physical and mental challenges of marathon running.

For Caylee Wagner ’13, a business administration major from of Merillville, Ind., that preparation helped her power through the “wall” she hit at mile 13.

“I know a lot of people stop halfway through, but I kept going,” she recalls. “Even though I had already gotten really sick and felt weak, I fought through it.”

“Pain is temporary”

Bethany (Anderson) Knight ’97, resident director for Grand Apartments and Howe Hall, saw her husband, Justin Knight ’97/’07 MOL, general manager of Shine.FM, among the cheering fans at mile 16. He encouraged her by giving her orange slices and fresh snacks.

“I looked at my orange shoelaces and orange Team World Vision shirt to remind me why I was running,” she says. “And I thought about the people who had supported me by donating money to help Africa’s children.”

Wesley Sproul ’15 of Kankakee, a business administration major, found motivation to finish at mile 23. “I saw a person holding a sign that said: ‘Pain is temporary, quitting is forever.’ I thought to myself, I can’t quit now.”

Finishing strong

As the members of Team Shine crossed the finish line, they were flooded with emotion.

“When I saw the finish line, I went numb,” Wesley says. “All the pain went away as I ran down that hill. I made it!”

Each received water and a race medal. But there was an even greater reward: helping to provide a lifetime of clean water for 64,000 people in Africa.

“I’ve run 26.2 miles on the streets of Chicago,” says Tiffany (Hardy) Greer ’97, professor in Olivet’s Department of Nursing. “I would never have done this for any other reason than to provide clean water for the children of Africa.”

Bethany looks forward to seeing the power of that first hand, as she will lead Olivet students on a Missions in Action (M.I.A.) trip with World Vision to Rwanda next year. There, she will be able to see both the effects of having no water and the differences that clean water is making.

Caylee, a long-time World Vision supporter, emphasizes her continued respect for the organization’s work: “It’s a blessing to me anytime I can be part of what World Vision is doing.”


Cadets enrolled in Olivet's Roaring Tiger ROTC Battalion