Warriors Inspired, Challenged By Trans-Atlantic Row-Boat Queen

By Cynthia Rojas

Katie Spotz visits Pueblo High School

Nearly 450 Pueblo students and faculty members packed the school’s auditorium on Friday, Feb. 13, to attend a presentation from Katie Spotz, a self-motivated young woman who has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars in a variety of stellar physical achievements—raising money to provide clean drinking water to an estimated one billion people on this planet that don’t have access to it.

Nearly 5,000 people (mostly children) each day die from drinking bad water, she said. Most of the countries that she has helped raised money for to provide safe water include Haiti, Honduras, Guatemala, Nicaragua and Kenya.

“I couldn’t just stand around and let this happen anymore, so I started to challenge myself to help as much as one person can,” the Ohio-born Spotz said.

On March 14, 2013, the then 22-year-old Spotz became the younger person (and only the second woman) to row across the Atlantic Ocean, unattended and without aid—approximately 3,000 miles, from Africa to South America! During the 70-day challenge, Spotz said she had very little diversion except for a day interacting with dolphins and the several occasions of avoiding enormous freight ships.

“I would listen to a lot of music and comedians on my headphones,” Spotz said. “Once I hit the midway point, halfway across the Atlantic Ocean, I really had to focus on rowing just one mile at a time. One mile…one mile…instead of the 1,500 that I still had to row to reach the South American coast.”

In the end, her “Row for Water” event raised more than $150,000 to provide safe drinking water. But, she didn’t stop there. In a valiant effort to raise even more awareness of providing safe drinking water to one billion people, Spotz has a resumé of unbelievable, impressive, physical feats, including swimming the entire length of the Allegheny River as well as cycling across the United States in seven days—even with a broken pelvis! Spotz eventually traveled to Kenya, and there she helped 10,000 students, first-hand, in that African nation gain access to safe drinking water.

“It was an amazing opportunity to actually be in the middle of this crisis,” Spotz said, “and also to be a part of the solution.” She added that she was appalled at how many people in Kenya are without clean drinking water—maybe only one person in 1,000 have access to healthy water each day.

Spotz spends most of her time traveling around the United States helping and inspiring schools to raise money for a project called “Schools for Water”.

Students in attendance were definitely inspired by Spotz’ achievements. Senior Narda Garcia said, “I was totally captivated by the presentation—especially because a woman defied all of the odds and stayed tenacious, never giving up. We students can definitely learn from her determination and perseverance.”

Pueblo is now challenged to raise money for “Schools for Water”. According to Ms. Mary Wallace, government teacher and the organizer of this presentation, Pueblo has committed to raising $1,500 and challenging Cholla, whose goal is to raise $1,000.

Wallace said that she is communicating with our administrators about ways to raise money in support of “Schools for Water”, including a “hat day” in which students will be allowed to wear hats for a day in exchange for one dollar. More activities will be announced throughout the semester, she added.

“Students are needed to help with raising money [for “Schools for Water”] because I want this fund-raising event to be student-based,” Wallace said. “This is a great opportunity for students to show leadership and responsibility.”

Junior Michael Montijo, who attended the presentation, said, “Spotz really brought the global water crisis into the spotlight. In today’s world, there is no excuse for unsanitary water or food.”

Armando Corral, a sophomore, said, “I was really motivated by the presentation. I want to help this situation by not wasting water in the future. We can all do a little something to make a huge difference.”

Senior Ariel Garrison was inspired by the presentation. “I think she is admirable for raising awareness to a topic that I was not fully aware of until now. Ms. Spotz is a awesome role model for all of us, and we should all find our own individual ways to help those who are not as fortunate.”

Another senior Narda Garcia, “I can’t believe that she continued the race with a broken pelvis! Talk about tenacity! I think that she truly inspired a lot of us to persevere under difficult situations. After the presentation, my friends and I were talking about what we can do to make the world a place where we give more than we take.”

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