At just 13 years old, Scotty Parker already knows a lot about sweat equity.
For example, he’s sweat quite a bit during the 7,000 miles he’s logged training over the last year. That includes one weekend he biked more than 100 miles uphill when he tackled the “Assault on Mt. Mitchell” – an infamous 10,000 foot climb in his home state of South Carolina.
On Saturday, he’ll be staring down another number: 3,000, as he pushes off on his bike from the Santa Monica Pier and makes his way across eleven states to head back home.
“I’ve come to love the sport,” Parker said in an interview with the Daily Press before he begins the eight-week journey on his bike. “It’s awesome. I never knew that I would have the passion for cycling but I really wanted to help other people and it’s a way I can do that.”
While Parker puts in the sweat equity, others are putting in the actual equity – money to his favorite charity, Water Mission, a nonprofit organization that provides safe drinking water to communities around the world.
Before he even sets out on the journey, Parker’s efforts have already seen a massive return – nearly $300,000 in donations through his website scottysride.com. With a third $100,000 matching offer from an anonymous donor on the line, he is hopeful he will reach his goal of raising half a million dollars by the time he gets back to North Charleston, South Carolina.
It’s not the first time Parker has raised a significant chunk of change for the charity. It all started with a birthday party in elementary school. Parker had learned about the lack of clean drinking water around the world and the startling statistics that every 21 seconds a child dies from a water-related illness.
“When I first heard about it I saw pictures and in these pictures were kids my age – just like me but they were drinking dirty water and I thought: that could have been me if the world was just a little different.”
“I really thought about it for a long time and I knew it wasn’t right. I wanted to be part of the change and bring clean water to these people.”
So for his 8th birthday, Parker suggested his friends donate money instead of gifts and netted $618 for Water Mission. His passion snowballed from there. For his tenth birthday he decided to go bigger: a 218 mile ride across his home state.
“For the first ride, I wanted to run across the state but when I told my doctor I wanted to run he said it was a bad idea because of my age –but he said you can ride your bike.”
Parker’s fundraising efforts raised $70,000 and led him to Honduras where he actually got to see the effect new water pumps had on a small community without clean drinking water. It’s an experience that made him even more resolute to keep pushing and keep raising money.
On his latest journey, Parker and his group plan to log about 75 miles a day and rest on Sundays. He’s planned stops throughout the trip to take pictures and see the country. His donors can follow him on Facebook and Instagram.
With each passing mile, Parker says he plans to use his faith and his passion to keep going. The families who will benefit from his ambitious plan are never far from his mind.
“It will be hard but it’s nothing compared to what those people go though every day.”