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Steve's Story

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I hate running.

30 years ago some friends twisted my arm and convinced me to run a 10K. I hated every minute of that 10K experience and didn’t lace up a pair of running shoes for another 25 years.  

But that all changed in 2007 when I sensed a whisper to surrender myself to the unknowns that come with training for and running the Chicago Marathon with Team World Vision. Through groups much like my own church team, thousands of Team World Vision runners have raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for clean water in Africa.  

That event ignited something in me, and I began to sense an increasing call to devote myself more to running and the idea that running can change lives.    

Then in 2009 I was asked to run the world-renowned Comrades 56-Mile Ultra Marathon in South Africa with Team World Vision. At first, it was easy for fear to answer for me: “No”. 

Steve and Paul JVRSteve and buddy Paul JVR before the marathon in 2009

But I was challenged to invite God into my fears and move past them. 

I ended up running and finishing that event in May 2010 while raising over $150,000. Once again, running had taught me a lot about the act of surrendering. 

Then it happened. While on a 15-mile run in November 2010 another whisper caught my ear. The whisper simply said, "You are to run across America for others."

That thought freaked me out! I said nothing about it to my wife or anyone else for several months. But as I did speak of it to her and a few others, something grew in me. Throughout 2011, the call to change lives through running continued to intensify. Near the beginning of 2012, with much fear, I opened my hands to whatever God might be up to.

After several months of prayer, discussions, and research, I made the decision to take the next 18 months to plan for, train, raise funds, and run across America for clean water in Africa. This would mean giving up my stable job and career at one of the most influential churches in the country to do something that less than 300 people in this country have ever done. 

If you would have told me that someday I would be running across America, I would have said "No way times 100." 

I marvel at the direction that our lives can take. Please join me on this journey: Make a donation.

How will this work? 

The run is approximately 3,000 miles, and will last approximately 4-5 months. I will basically be running a marathon a day during that time. Each week, I will also be speaking at churches or civic organizations along the route, encouraging people to move past their fears, take next steps and bring hope to children and their communities through the provision of clean water.

Why does it matter? 

The fundraising goal is $1.5 million. $50 is all it takes for 1 person to have clean water for life! That means that this funding will provide clean water for 30,000 people in Africa.


Steve Spear has been on staff at Willow Creek Community Church in the Chicagoland area since 1996, including pastoring Willow’s first regional congregation for the past 10 years.  Steve and his wife Frances have been married for 26 years, have two adult children (Zach and Chelsea), and live in St. Charles, IL.


$1.5 million



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Running for Water Video

Watch & Learn

One man runs 120 marathons, coast to coast, to raise awareness for clean water in Africa.

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