Running to change lives

A local team will be running in the Chicago Marathon this year as part of a life-changing mission.
Jennifer Knetsch from Steward and her team from Heartland Community Church in Rockford will be participating in the Chicago Marathon this year as part of Team World Vision, a fundraising program of World Vision International. This program focuses on providing lower income families across the world with access to clean water.
“They are the largest non-governmental supplier of clean water and every $50 earned brings clean water to one person forever, not just a year or a month, but forever,” explained Knetsch.
While Team World Vision will have thousands of runners in the marathon, the goal of Knetsch and her team is to earn $300,000.
Many of these families walk five miles or more multiple times a day in order to get water that will most likely get them sick. Knetsch said it was a video that a representative from World Vision presented to her church that made her feel the need to join.
“We had a representative from Team World Vision come to church and show a video of his personal visit to a location in Africa where they were doing some work, and it was just disgusting,” Knetsch explained. “He was taking a video of the child he sponsored at the watering hole and there is literally an animal going to the bathroom in it in the background.”
Donations of any amount help Team World Vision in their efforts to supply clean water to the world. But if people would like to get involved on a more personal level there is an option to sponsor children directly.
“For $39 a month you can sponsor children directly and that will help with immunization, clothing and things like that — more than just the water,” explained Knetsch.
While the main goal of Team World Vision is to supply clean water to people, their goal for the Chicago Marathon is also to get non-runners to come out and participate in the marathon. The program offers an 18-week marathon training plan that involves running four days a week, strength and core training one day a week and cross training one day a week.
While many people may not enjoy running in a marathon, people do it to support the cause behind it.
“Being in a marathon was never something on my bucket list but the experience of doing it last year was incredible. Just knowing that I was doing something that was going to potentially help save lives was a pretty rewarding feeling,” Knetsch said.
While the deadline to participate in the Chicago Marathon as part of Team World Vision was July 31 they are always accepting donations through their website at or through Knetsch’s personal fundraising page at
Knetsch also typically documents all of the runs she completes on her social media at Jennifer Lynne on Facebook and Knetschkisses on Instagram.



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