RNJ News Department

N.J. man walking across U.S. for clean water will pass through Hackettstown

PRINCETON, NJ – Don’t be surprised if you see a man carrying water through Northwest New Jersey.

James Leitner, who will be carrying 90-pounds of water across the U.S to help billions without clean water, will be passing through some New Jersey towns as he makes his over 3200-mile trek from Princeton, NJ to San Francisco, CA. At 10:00 a.m. on Wednesday, the Scotch Plains, NJ native will be joined by family, friends, colleagues and other supporters from around the region to launch his journey. Some of the New Jersey towns Leitner will be passing through is Scotch Plains, North Plainfield, watchung/Green Brook, Bridgewater, Whitehouse, Potterstown, High Bridge, Hackettstown, Washington, and westwood.

Through this journey, he wishes to symbolize the millions of women and children that have to walk carrying large cans of water for several miles on a daily basis. Leitner is also looking to raise at least $15,000 through GoFundMe.com to help the Philadelphia Serengeti Alliance, a non-profit whose mission is to build wells in various regions of Tanzania where clean water is extremely scarce. The launch will take place at the WorldWater & Solar Technologies Inc. headquarters at 330 Carter Road in Princeton, NJ.

Leitner’s motivation began while he was doing research for a high school assignment. He discovered that billions of people around the world (including in parts of the US) did not have access to clean water for drinking, bathing and/or cooking. Since then, Leitner has made it his life’s mission to make others aware of this astounding statistic and to help reverse it. Now at 23-years-old, Leitner just completed his goal of walking 12 marathons in 12 months, during which he carried 45 pounds (5 gallons) of water on his head. Just a few days after crossing the finish line of his twelfth marathon in Carmel, Indiana on April 22nd, Leitner has only three weeks to physically and mentally prepare for this four-month expedition. He plans to carry only a few bare essentials along with 90 pounds of water (two jerrycans) in a hand-pulled cart. The plastic jerrycans are the typical containers used by women in Africa to carry water on their heads.

Leitner estimates that he will cover about 25 miles each day over four months to complete his journey. Cities he plans to visit along his tour include Buffalo, Chicago, Denver, Des Moines, Denver, Salt Lake City as well as Flint, MI where clean water is also known to be problematic. He will finish at the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, with WorldWater & Solar as one of the entities to welcome him at the finish line. Because WorldWater has been building patented solar-powered units to provide clean water to villages throughout Africa, including Tanzania, as well as in developing, war-torn and natural disaster-ridden countries around the world for over 30 years, Leitner found it fitting to have his send-off at their location.

Through this tremendous endeavor, Leitner also wants to raise awareness of how providing access to clean water can improve the lives of women and children on many levels. The onus is typically placed on young women and children to scavenge for clean water, often several miles from their homes on a daily basis. These long treks not only take up most of their days but carrying such heavy weights on their heads damages them physically.  They also place these women in danger of being attacked by men or wild animals and deprives them of the time and energy they could be using towards helping provide more for their families, contributing more to their communities or educating themselves. The water they gather from the rivers, streams and ponds are generally filled with dangerous microorganisms, so there is a severe health risk as well.

For more information and to follow his journey, visit missioncleanwater.com.

For more Northwest Jersey’s News, tune into 92.7FM, 104.7FM, 1510AM, wrnj.com or on the TuneIn app.

By: Jay Edwards
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