Tigers’ tennis team walking for water in Ethiopia
Parker Hegstrom spent the past two summers in Austin, Texas, working on his tennis game, but he discovered so much more.
The Grand Junction High School senior became involved with the Austin Tennis Academy’s sponsorship of the Glimmer of Hope Foundation.
Now, Hegstrom is leading an effort to raise money for the nonprofit organization responsible for building water wells, schools and hospitals in rural Ethiopia.
“I knew it was tough for the third-world countries,” Hegstrom said. “However, this is a physical demand they have to give every day, especially women and children. To know the fact it’s unsanitary water, it’s definitely an eye-opener.”
Hegstrom is organizing fundraising efforts and has a group of more than two dozen high school tennis players participating in a walk for water at 9 a.m. on Saturday at the Tabeguache trail head off Monument Road.
“I really don’t know if I could ask for it to come together much better than this,” Hegstrom said. “Getting around 30 people together is not something easy to do. I had to put a lot of trust in other people. I had to choose captains for other groups. I could relay my information to them and they could disperse it to other people.”
Hegstrom appointed Alex Proietti from the girls team and McKenzie Kimball from the Bookcliff Country Club group as captains. It didn’t take long for the rest of the Grand Junction tennis team to get on board.
“Everybody is mostly excited,” Grand Junction junior Jeff Hansen said. “We don’t realize the impact this makes because we have it so good. We get to play tennis every day. They take two hours each day getting water.
“It’s not difficult for us to send out e-mails and raise money.”
The teenagers will carry 40-pound water containers two miles, like Ethiopian women do each and every day, in hopes of raising $5,000 for the Glimmer of Hope organization.
Hegstrom found out about the organization while attending the Austin Tennis Academy.
A group of junior tennis players organized a walk for water in Austin and raised $10,000. Hegstrom’s friend at the academy encouraged him to organize a walk in Grand Junction to raise money for the organization.
“The second year, my friend had gone to Ethiopia to witness first-hand what they had done,” Hegstrom said. “They had a great time. When he was there he saw the women doing this walk. They have to hike two miles to get water. He wanted to try it and it turned out to be this back-breaking experience.
“He organized this group to raise money. They tried to raise $5,000 and actually raised $10,000. I was down there and he said, ‘You know what, maybe you can do this up there.’ I thought about it. I saw the opportunity. We talked about it and decided we were going to do it.”
Hegstrom set up a website link through the organization for people to make donations. There is no limit to how much a person can donate or a deadline to make a donation.
The group had raised $1,465 as of Monday afternoon.
“Our personal goal I kind of set out there was $160 per person (participating),” Hegstrom said. “That can be raised anyway.”