When Key Club partner Thirst Project kicked off its inaugural Legacy Summit July 19, two members of the Bay High School Key Club in Ohio, along with their advisor, joined the 200-plus crowd. Held in Malibu, California, the two-day Legacy Summit celebrated the achievements of Thirst Project leaders in Legacy Schools — those that have raised, or are raising, Thirst Project funds of at least US$1,000 for more than one year.

Shae Janos and Noah Lowery joined advisor Anita Bauknecht for inspirational presentations and breakout sessions designed to build leadership skills and enhance Thirst Project efforts. They volunteered to share their experience with the Key Club family.

First, why is working with Thirst Project important to you?

Noah Lowery: “It focuses on such an unthinkable privilege: water. Every day, I can wake up and simply go to the faucet and access seemingly a limitless amount of water. However, for millions around the world, that’s not the case. The Thirst Project works to ensure that every person receives the human right of access to safe and clean drinking water in the places that need it the most.”

Shae Janos: “I just think how crazy it is that 663 million people worldwide do not have access to clean, safe drinking water.”

Why did you want to attend the Legacy Summit?

NL: “I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to meet a group of such motivated people who are all working toward the same goal as I — and of course because of the beauty of Southern California.”

SJ: “The best student leaders in the country were all gathered together, not only to celebrate the accomplishments the Thirst Project has reached in 10 years, but to join together and declare war on the global water crisis and decide that we will be the generation that ends it.”

What event highlights stand out to you?

NL: “All of the amazing speakers that came to talk to us every single day of the conference and, additionally, all of the amazing friends I met while there that I hope to stay in touch with.”

SJ: “Meeting so many students from all over the country was incredible. Having the opportunity to speak with kids who were just as passionate as I am about ending the global water crisis was an honor and a privilege. I made so many friends that will last a lifetime.”

Did any particular experience make a special impact?

SJ: “Getting to meet Gibsile Lukhele, also known as Happiness. She’s an individual who was directly affected by the global water crisis. She lives in a village in eSwatini and has lost family members due to diseases from their contaminated source. She was the kindest human being I’ve ever met, a beautiful ray of sunshine. Her laugh and smile were contagious. It just boggles my mind how she has suffered so much and continues to radiate joy and happiness.”

NL: “A group of friends and I were waiting to enter the amphitheater, and we had a conversation with Monique Coleman, who then went on to talk to us as a keynote speaker 10 minutes later. I was completely starstruck, and she was unbelievably genuine.”

Will you be sharing what you learned with other Bay High School Key Club members?

SJ: “I will be working with my Key Club for the fourth year in a row to host events and raise money for the Thirst Project and spread awareness about the global water crisis. The Thirst Project is an amazing organization, and I am so proud to work with them.”

NL: “Definitely. I hope to take the sentiments from the summit and relay them to my club this year during our fundraising efforts for the Thirst Project in hope of inspiring and engendering everyone as much as I have been. The biggest takeaway from the event is that we are making true progress toward fighting the water crisis, and we cannot just make it a one-year thing for us to be a part of, but rather lifelong until every human has access to the water they need and deserve.”