40FOR40: Teacher dedicates birthday to safe water run

By in Donor Opportunities, Her, Ministry Updates

Running with a passion is an incredible thing, but for Eric Gudde, he’s also running on a mission. Gudde is committing his 40th birthday to a 40-mile run to raise awareness and funds for safe water through Healing Waters International.

Gudde teaches technology, graphic design, and more at Frontenac High School in Frontenac, Kansas. His lessons are informative and educational, but also inspirational. A class with Gudde often involves learning about one of his greatest principles—compassion for others.

Eric Gudde standing ready to for his safe water run

Eric Gudde's students at a raffle to help raise money for safe water

In one class exercise, he asked his students to walk carrying 40 pounds of water to simulate the long walk for water too many people make in impoverished countries around the world. He also inspires his students to participate in fundraisers with the goal of giving more communities access to safe water.

A student carries 40 pounds of water to simulate the walk for water

“The students worked on learning photography, engineering, graphic design, and marketing. They learned most about teamwork and setting goals,” he said of the Water Project his students completed in his class. “They set a goal of raising $500 as a group. They sold T-shirts, pledged to run/walk with me in March and took in donations. Together, they raised $800.”

In another project, Gudde asked his technology students to build robots capable of traveling over a bridge to collect water, then travel back across. 

“This represents women and children getting water,” he said. “During this challenge, they must research about the problem. They then use their marketing/photography skills to create a fundraiser.”

Eric's students with their robots

A shirt designed by Eric's students with a water drop

Gudde inspires his students to demonstrate compassion and caring for others they have never met. And this month, he is living out those same principles when he spends his 40th birthday running 40 miles to raise funds for Healing Waters International

“This has been almost a year in the making,” Gudde said. “I need to run 40 miles on my 40th birthday,”

His goal is clear—to raise $8,000 toward a safe water system for an impoverished community by partnering with Healing Waters International. The systems HWI brings to impoverished communities removes 99.99% of all bacteria, viruses and parasites in water.

An integrated bottle sanitizing station ensures that safe water isn’t put into dirty bottles. And quality components ensure this is a sustainable solution. This means up to 10,000 liters of safe water for a community in need.

Eric Goode's safe water run graphic from social media

After Gudde shared his mission and goal with his students and others, he decided to do even more. The teacher added a mission of running 40 half marathons in 2020. He is shooting for 1,278 miles total this year.

“That is an average number of miles for women and children have to walk each year for water,” he said. “My 40th year of existence in 2020 doing 40 half marathons seemed like it was meant to be.”

Eric Gudde after completing a run

In all things, Gudde hopes that his students understand the impact that one person can make.

“I want to inspire my students that you can help anyone, anywhere, at any age if you go all in.”


We’re on a mission to end the global water crisis. We build holistic clean water solutions and spread God’s love in at-risk communities around the world, empowering people not just to survive, but to thrive – physically, socially and spiritually.