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A Race to Change the World

A Race to Change the WorldIn an effort to raise awareness about the worldwide lack of clean drinking water, recent Tufts graduate MacKenzie Rawcliffe organized a road race in her hometown.

Medford/Somerville, Mass. [07.02.07] As classes were winding down last semester, MacKenzie Rawcliffe, like most seniors, found herself dealing with the pressures of final exams and preparing for graduation. If that weren't enough, the international relations major had another pressing concern on her mind: namely, the worldwide shortage of clean drinking water. Just weeks from commencement, Rawcliffe took it upon herself to plan a charity foot race in her hometown of Winterport, Maine, to raise awareness about the issue.

"There were 55 runners, which for a first-time race is pretty good," she told Tufts E-News. "I would say it was a success."

The race, held on June 9, raised nearly $1,500 for the Blue Planet Run Foundation, an organization dedicated to providing safe, sustainable drinking water to people around the world.

Rawcliffe first learned about the Blue Planet Run Foundation when she heard a speech by founder and chair Jin Zidell during the Education for Public Inquiry and International Citizenship (EPIIC) symposium on global crises, which was held at Tufts in March.

The organization sponsors the Blue Planet Run, an ambitious relay race taking place this summer involving 20 athletes, who will cross 16 countries and four continents before ending up in the New York City in September. Inspired by the event, Rawcliffe "told Zidell she thought she could spread the word in her own corner of the world, and proposed a satellite run in Winterport," according to the Bangor Daily News.

After getting the green light from Blue Planet Run and netting a sponsorship from Poland Springs, a Maine-based spring water company, Rawcliffe began preparing for the event. She credits her family and friends with making the race possible.

"Pretty much my whole family helped, from my cousin who took photos of the race to my grandparents who ran a water station," she told E-News;even her high school track coach volunteered to help. Rawcliffe was pleased with the end result.

She explained to the Bangor Daily News that she saw the completion of her plan as a challenge-"a final for myself as I'm graduating from college."

Rawcliffe intends to continue her humanitarian efforts. She currently works for the Center for Public Integrity in Washington, D.C., investigating human rights abuses, and plans to stay in the "invigorating" city. Whatever the next step in her career path, it must "square with my moral compass and make me feel like I have a valiant purpose in life," she told E-News, adding that "like most recent graduates I'm still all naive and romantic."

Rawcliffe also plans to continue making an impact in Winterport through her proposal for a new community center. Wherever she is, Rawcliffe wants her efforts to make a difference, whether they are helping to change lives worldwide or "improving the little town I love."

Some reporting by John DeCarli (A'08), Web Communications

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