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Why We're Training To Run 26.2 Miles.

Our Story: Last year in 2017, we wanted to do something to celebrate our daughter Hailey’s journey! The fall of 2017 marked a year since we had received Hailey’s diagnosis. It was a day that changed our family forever! She was diagnosed with a genetic mutation called STXBP1. Being transparent with you, this journey has had its fair share of ups and downs, heartaches and trials, victories and just plain hard days. Despite the hard days, we wanted to celebrate the anniversary of her diagnosis, by doing something to bring awareness, and to CELEBRATE in the victories she’s made, in the strength our family has had to acquire as a special needs family, and that a year later, we knew more than EVER God was going to use Hailey’s story, and our family's story to soften the hearts of others! So what did we decide to do to celebrate?!? Run our first ever half marathon!! Crazy? Maybe a little...but we signed up to run for the Epilepsy Foundation and raise funds, and I will tell you that to this day, crossing that finish line in honor of our daughter, and families like ours...was unlike anything we've ever experienced, and will be a moment that we will never forget for the rest of our lives!

During that process of training from April 2017-October 2017 we started running 3-4 times a week. Short runs, hard runs, and the dreaded long runs every week. In the thick of the summer heat, we questioned over and over WHY on Earth we thought this ever sounded like a good idea?! Then we’d remember our goal: we were running for something BIGGER than ourselves, we were running to bring awareness and to raise funds to hopefully change the lives of others. God started teaching us both about endurance, self discipline, and doing something hard for others, even when it isn’t easy. A friend of ours who had run with Hope Water International encouraged us to connect with HWI’s running group that meets every Tuesday and Saturday to do long runs together. Even though we didn’t run for HWI last year, we were immediately accepted into this loving group of people who were on a very similar mission as we were: Running for a bigger purpose.

Hope Water International raises funds through willing participants who sign up for marathons, triathlons, and other races in honor of raising funds to drill wells in Africa to provide clean water for communities who do not have access to the most basic necessity of life. Not only has clean water saved lives, but it creates a life. With each well, communities are strengthened and villages grow, health is restored, lives are saved, and thousands of people hear the Gospel of Jesus Christ for the first time!

In 5 years, more than 100 wells have been installed in some of the most remote and rural villages across Africa, bringing clean water and the Gospel to forgotten, yet beautiful groups of people. Water changes everything, for these communities water equals life!

When water is no longer a daily concern for these villages, education, friendship, and community can flourish. Digging a well does much more than meet needs-it creates opportunities!

So this year when training time came around again, our heart was all in for running with Hope Water International! We started the training process back in April, and as I write this now in July, are already half way through training. This year we felt God push us to go for the full marathon. This will truly be one of the hardest things either of us has ever done. Every long run is a mental and physical battle. We’re both running 4 times/week, and we meet with a team of Hope Water Runners every Saturday at Johnson park to support one another in our long run days. We are asking our friends and family to partner with Hope Water International through prayer and donations! Our fundraising goal is $2,000! Our combined Hope Water Teams Goal is $76,750. Will you partner with us to bring clean water to villages that do not have access? Will you pray for strength for us through this journey, pray for endurance as the runs get longer and harder? Any contribution, prayer or donation, small or big, is changing the lives of others, so we thank you in advance!

If you would like to donate, you can donate directly to our fundraising page:


To donate via check: 1.)Please make the check out to Hope Water International

2.)Put “Ryan and Jess Ellison” in the memo line.

3.) Mail the check to- Hope Water International 3128 Walton Blvd. PMB#245 Rochester Hills, MI, 48309

Thank you for taking the time to consider partnering with HWI and us! God Bless, Ryan and Jess