For some, running is a fun pastime or a reluctant fitness goal. But for Brad Smith (B.S. ’08), the reason he runs is a matter of life and death for children around the world.
Smith, assistant director of enrollment for Cornerstone University’s Professional & Graduate Studies, is motivated by more than just fitness. In a sense, he’s motivated by necessity when he runs. What started out as a competitive college sport became a lifelong passion to bring clean water, food and other resources to impoverished children.
“I ran track at CU. I was a sprinter,” Smith said. “But sprinting is difficult and can cause injuries over time, so after graduating I started doing triathlons and 5Ks.”
For a while, running was simply a fun fitness hobby for Smith, until World Vision, a Christian humanitarian organization, visited his church. He was introduced to Team World Vision, a worldwide team of runners who participate in races and sponsor children and communities in need of clean water. Smith saw that as an opportunity to use his hobby to glorify God.
“God has given me the ability to run,” Smith reflected. “I enjoy doing it, and for me to not use it to show His love seems selfish.”
In April 2020, Team World Vision will participate in the London Marathon, one of the biggest races in the world. Two runners in the race will be competing for a world record. It’s also a race that is often used by nonprofit organizations for fundraising. Based on the amount of money he has received in sponsorships so far, Smith has qualified to join Team World Vision in London.
“This will be my first time running 26 miles straight,” Smith said. To train for this event, Smith is running double-digit miles, including running to work—a 12-mile stretch from his home.
The London Marathon is one of the most difficult races to get into. Over 40,000 runners will be present at the event in 2020. About 30 of those will be Team World Vision runners raising money for clean water for children around the world.
“Millions of people die every year because they have no access to clean water,” Smith said. “There’s no way I couldn’t participate and help them.”
Smith said that a one-time $50 donation can provide clean water to a child for their lifetime. He has so far been able to raise $10,000 for Team World Vision, securing clean water for 200 children across the globe.
“Being involved with Team World Vision has been fun,” Smith said. He has gone to a few team events, which are full of prayer and worship sessions. “The more people I interact with on the team, the more impressed I am by their hearts. They cry over the experiences they’ve had visiting these children, and they give their all to make their quality of life better.”