Scotty Parker was 7 years old when we heard about the global water crisis. As he says, “that really hurt my heart.” To find out at such a young age that not everyone had what he had shook his world. For his 8th birthday he wanted to do something to help. He asked friends and family to bring donations for Water Mission instead of gifts to his birthday party. Water Mission is a nonprofit in his hometown that provides sustainable water solutions to people in need. He raised $618. That was a huge amount of money for an 8-year-old, but he said he would lay awake at night thinking about what more he could do to help other kids have what he had.
Running was something he enjoyed doing with his father. One Sunday afternoon after watching a family movie he announced to his parents he wanted to run across the state of South Carolina for his 10th birthday to raise more money for clean water. They both chuckled but instead of shooting down his dream they said he would need to ask his doctor and that he did. His doctor explained at such a young age that would not be ideal for his growing body but said he could ride his bike if he trained properly. At the time, he had only ridden his bike around the neighborhood less than 2 miles. He set a goal to ride 218 miles across South Carolina in five days starting on his 10th birthday, which happened to be the first day of his spring break. Scotty was dedicated and passionate for the cause so without any complaints he followed a training schedule designed for him by Anne Moore Endurance Training. He set out on this ride on April 13, 2014, with the support of friends and family and completed the 218-mile ride, raising over $70,000, surpassing his original goal of $25,000. Through this ride, Scotty came to love the sport of cycling and using that passion to make a difference to an even bigger passion of his: clean water.
He was blown away by the support of the community, friends and family. He traveled on a mission trip to Honduras to see the opening of two of the systems opened due to his fundraising efforts. To say this trip was life changing would be a huge understatement. He was in awe of the joy, love and appreciation from the people of Honduras over something as simple as clean water. His passion was ignited even more, and he decided he had to do more. He relied heavily on his faith and truly believes anything is possible with the power of Christ.
He had a dream he would not stop talking about. If he could raise awareness and over $70,000 riding his bike across one state, imagine the impact if he rode his bike across the entire USA. He set out to prove he was serious. After hiring Anne Moore Endurance Training again, he was given a rigorous training schedule. Again, the passion outweighed the things he would miss out on as a 12-year-old due to training. He would run before school, go to swim practice in the afternoons and ride long rides every weekend. He set the goal of completing the Assault on Mount Mitchell, a 102-mile ride with 11,000 feet of climbing. He finished in 8 hours and 55 minutes, but more importantly gained the mental strength from this ride to get him through his next big goal.
After a rigorous year of training and fundraising for Scotty’s Ride for Water Coast to Coast, Scotty, his family and a team of four other riders set out from the Santa Monica Pier on June 3, 2017. He averaged 75-80 miles a day and rode six days a week. The ride was challenging and the heat was brutal due to the need to do it over summer break for school. Scotty rode with a small picture attached to his handle bars as motivation. It was the first picture he had seen of kids without clean water. Knowing that what he was enduring was nothing compared to what some people go through every day for clean water motivated him to never give up and ride every mile. Every day he encountered the most wonderful people.
He said he learned four main things through all of this:
1. We live in a gorgeous country.
2. People are really awesome and there is so much good in the world.
3. God is huge.
4. Nothing is impossible.
He completed his ride Aug. 1, 2017, in Charleston, South Carolina, ending at the headquarters for Water Mission after riding 3,300 miles. This long-distance trek across the U.S. raised over $629,000 for clean water. Scotty hopes people see through this that it doesn’t matter how old you are, you can make a difference in the world. Anything is possible. He is passionate about ending the global water crisis and through all of this has grown to love cycling. He has competed in several triathlons and has grown to love the sport. His plans for this year include several USA Triathlon youth elite triathlons. He hopes through all of this people young and old see nothing is impossible!
Learn more about Water Mission at watermission.org.