So, there’s this guy … his name is Daren. Some may call him Forrest, but that’s only part of his story.
When I first heard about Daren Wendell, I’m pretty sure he was in the middle of a run somewhere. Sure, lots of folks run. I even run sometimes. I know … hard to believe. But, Daren runs for a purpose; to bring awareness to the world’s water crisis. And for every $40 he is able to capture as a result of his crazy pursuits, he ensures clean drinking water for another human being. For life. For.life.
Because we ‘know people’, our agency had the distinct privilege of building a website for Daren’s latest adventure … a 100-day run across the country. We helped map out the path for Daren that would begin at the Santa Monica Pier in California and conclude in Times Square, in the heart of Manhattan. Daren planned to run at least a marathon everyday in order to reach that distance in that span of time.
And you know how sometimes you hear someone talk about some crazy thing they’re planning to attempt and you’re like, ‘oh yes, of course. i totalllllly think that’s going to happen’ as your tongue drips with sarcasm? Well, this wasn’t like that. Not once did I doubt that Daren was going to complete the journey. He does have a history of accomplishing major feats, e.g. biking across the country and walking the same; so it isn’t out of character but this one seemed much larger and much more challenging.
And I know Daren had his moments but each and every day as I was able to see and read of his journey on Instagram, I appreciated what he was doing so much. So, so much. This wasn’t about Daren Wendell. It was about all of those people that he was bringing attention to. It was about, ultimately, the 3,500 individuals who will now understand the reality of clean drinking water. How amazing is that?!
So when the opportunity presented itself for me to watch Daren finish in person, I jumped at the chance. My girlfriend, Kim, and her husband, Scott, were nice enough to allow me to tag along with them to New York City the weekend of April 10th. Yes I know that was a while ago and I’m just finally getting around to a post about it. #betterlatethannever
We had such an amazing weekend that included a visit to the Today Show, amazing food, meetings colleagues at our VML office in New York, seeing Central Park from 19 floors up, touring around the city on Saturday and nearly missing the flight home. Oh, that part was just me. Crap. You know? I thought that a pretty young woman in Harlem would be able to get a ride to the airport from local law enforcement using only a sad face and a forehead glistening with sweat from near jogging with a heavy suitcase and laptop, but apparently they take their day job seriously. Trying to protect and serve and all. Hmph.
Anyway, the very best part of the entire experience was having the opportunity to watch with excitement as an unsuspecting crowd gathered in Times Square and welcomed Daren into the city after his long journey. Seeing Daren round the last corner and grab his wife’s hand was nothing short of overwhelming. The media swarmed him immediately following and the whole time all I could think was how happy he was to just bring attention to those he was looking to serve. This was not about a man running across the country … which is something everyone had seen upon watching Forrest Gump. No, this was about so much more. This was about the 3,500 people who will now be able to enjoy clean water. Man, we just take stuff for granted don’t we?
I feel so grateful I was able to celebrate with Daren and his team as he finished the race. Those members of his team as well as everyone who had a hand in making the entire experience a success should be so proud. I could just see Jesus saying, “Well done, son. Well done.” Now, #stopdarenstop.
I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. – 2 Timothy 4:7