Matt Lasley | GC News-GazetteThe participants in this year's Walk4Water gather for a group photo outside of the James D. Beville Community Park pavilion prior to the start of the event.

Matt Lasley | GC News-Gazette

The participants in this year's Walk4Water gather for a group photo outside of the James D. Beville Community Park pavilion prior to the start of the event.

The seventh annual Leitchfield Walk4Water saw the most participants in the event's history this past weekend, as well as more than $12,500 raised to build a clean water well in Haiti.

Fifty-eight walkers gathered at the James D. Beville Community Park pavilion Saturday morning to take part in a walk of solidarity to honor individuals in developing countries who must walk an average of 4 miles per day to collect clean drinking water.

This year's walk raised $12,565 thanks to the support of local individuals, families, businesses, and churches. This surpassed the goal of $7,500 to build a clean water well in Haiti and brings the total funds raised since the first local walk in 2012 to more than $85,000. In addition to Haiti, the local walk has also helped fund the construction of clean water wells in Ethiopia, India and Ghana.

Event organizer Mark Claypool said that 11 states were represented by donors this year, including the District of Columbia.

The local walk, hosted by the Clinton Street Church of Christ, is part of nationwide initiative by Healing Hands International, a faith-based organization that seeks to support developing countries.

According to Healing Hands representative Sean Judge, on April 25, the organization installed its 1,000th clean water well and estimates that these have given about 2 million people access to clean water.

"Water is not a commodity to us that we value," said Judge, explaining that the Walk4Water, while not nearly as strenuous as the treks made by young boys and girls in developing countries for clean water, is intended to help Americans understand the struggles faced by these individuals and a way of showing support. "If you took a shower longer than five minutes this morning, you wasted water."

Participants walked around the Beville park walking track and were also given the opportunity to carry water jugs to better acquaint themselves with these struggles. This year's Walk4Water T-shirt also fell in line with these efforts by featuring the Haitian Creole phrase "Mache Pou Dlo," which translates to "Walk For Water."

Post-Walk4Water donations toward a Haitian clean water well may still be made at walk4water.org by scrolling to Leitchfield, Kentucky. For more information about Healing Hands International and its work, visit www.hhi.org.