Wizards for Water completes their mission of finishing the OC Half Marathon


Gloria Parra-Diaz (used with permission)

MCHS students take pride in carrying their heavy medal around their necks after finishing 13.1 miles.

On May 1, 2022, many Middle College High School students, along with a few teachers, participated in Orange County’s Half Marathon. Both students and teachers were training weekly, putting in a great amount of effort and hard work into the practice runs. Fundraising and spreading awareness for Team World Vision through Wizards for Water, Middle College was able to stay motivated, determined, and finished off strong. 

Various MCHS students from all grade levels were able to run 13.1 miles starting in the early morning of May 1. Runners woke up early and rested the previous day in order to mentally prepare for the big race. It was a day everyone was eagerly waiting for and hoping that it would come quicker, especially since it was the first time since 2019 since Wizards for Water was able to participate in it. Wizards for Water has been around for a few years, and it started off in 2016 when it was introduced to one of our MCHS teachers, Micah You. 

“It was a chance encounter for me to meet the guy from Team World Vision, Don Lee. I feel very fortunate that I was able to come across this, I didn’t seek it out, I didn’t pursue it, it came to me. I feel very fortunate and very honored to be a part of this,” Mr. You said.

Many students, who are now juniors and seniors, but also a few students who have already graduated, were cut short from their training in 2019 because we all had to go into lockdown, and everything was shut down, including the OC half and full marathon races. An MCHS student who was affected by this was  junior,Arturo Ayala.

“I have been participating in Wizards for Water since my freshman year, but this will be my first year completely finishing it as the first year we got shut down halfway because of the coronavirus and sophomore year we couldn’t do it because of the lockdown,” Ayala said.

Wizards for Water is part of a Christian humanitarian organization named Team World Vision which is dedicated to working with families varying from children, adults, and communities to help reduce the causes of poverty and injustice. There are many ways that the runners have contributed to this organization and it is by fundraising and collecting donations from family, friends, and possibly even from people we might not know to raise money for people in Africa who have little to no access to water. 

Another MCHS student who participated in this year’s half marathon was junior Gloria Parra-Diaz who said she was fundraising by “spreading the word out to those who I’m close with first. I started off with my family, then friends, and so forth. Mr. You then ordered us chocolate boxes to sell and I’m glad to say I sold three boxes worth of 60 types of chocolates making $180.”

When we take into account everything the students fundraised along with Mr. You, we were able to fundraise lots of money, but we realize our help was only a small portion we contributed to compared to how much help is really needed. 

Junior Christopher Armenta, another student who participated in this year’s half marathon, said, “I do feel like I’m some sort of change by helping raise money. I may not be there in Africa making a direct change, but I’m helping spread the cause.” 

“I don’t believe there are changes in the world, what I do believe and hope is that I’m making a change in a single person’s life, hopefully improving them, but a change in the world? No, I don’t think I’m capable of that yet, a change in someone though, seems a bit more manageable,” Ayala said. 

Being a part of this organization has made many feelings and emotions show up that helped us push through the race and our practice runs. One of the greatest feelings was to get to the end of the race and finish as fast as we could. 

“I feel very honored in both terms of Wizards for Water and Team World Vision because there is just one other school that I know of in Southern California that is doing this and they were somehow influenced by our example. I feel very fortunate that I was able to come across this, it came to me so it makes me feel very fortunate and honored to be a part of this,”  You said.

“This organization has taught me many things that I don’t think I would’ve thought of in the first place. Never have I fundraised money for something like this until now. You have to be committed but also take into account that every dollar counts to help out someone receive water or any resource that they may need. It’s nice to know at the back of your head that small commitments to these things can make a difference,” Diaz said.

Something many have been wondering is about motivation. What pushed us to stay motivated and focused throughout these few months of practicing and training hard for the big race? Motivation was key to completing this and was something we all had to find to make it through. 

Armenta said, “The thing that motivated me is our cause; I used to always take something like water for granted but when I learned that other places lack it motivates me to run the 13 miles.”

“Two things really motivated me. One was the students and the other was the cause. After Covid when we got shut down in 2020, in the middle of our training, I wasn’t sure how this would come back and if it would come back. I felt guilty for getting people to train and fundraise and then the kids didn’t get to do the actual race. I was mostly wondering if kids would want to do this again and in this school year, students were the ones who came up to me and asked if we were still going to participate in this. This was inspirational to me, that the kids sought it out and that they wanted to do it. We’ve had over 35 people as part of our team and that was really cool,” You said.

There were times when we were in need of motivation and had to find something that would let us continue to be running as much as we were daily. Some runners would say they became unmotivated.

“Well I think that whenever you’re in anything there’s always going to be the feeling of having no motivation; I can be honest and say that yes I’ve had those feeling, but my want to continue has always outweighed my want to stop, so it never got the best of me,” Ayala said.

Armenta also began to feel unmotivated at one point. 

“There was a point where I had a lot of self-doubt that I would be able to run this much of a distance but, after the 10 miles I regained the confidence that I could actually run that much,” he said.

Through this organization and Wizards for Water, we were able to push ourselves and our limits in running. We helped fundraise and helped get clean water to families in Africa. Overall, being a part of Wizards for Water was a great opportunity to make small changes by helping people in Africa get the water they need. 

Diaz said, “We fundraised in many ways to help out children and families in Africa who have no access to water. Luckily, we are fortunate to have water every day. Unfortunately, they aren’t, which is why Wizards for Water fundraises money towards Team World Vision, where they take the money and use it for those who need it in Africa. Please consider donating to help spread awareness and help out those in Africa who don’t have access to water on a daily basis. Any amount is acceptable as long as you know you’re helping to make a change.”

“Being at Middle College, we have a lot to offer in some areas but there is a lack of certain types of activities for students and there’s no way to get around it, especially for girls. For an activity like this where almost anyone can do as long as they can commit to it, I think it has a pretty good niche to it. It fills some boxes that a lot of things can’t like athleticism. We have the basketball, soccer, and flag football tournaments which are awesome but to be honest it’s a little hard for girls to feel as welcomed as they would hope to. Another thing was that some of those things need some skill whereas running, a lot of it just takes commitment, discipline, accountability, desire, and a structure so I think that’s really huge. It is a natural goal of this to fundraise and to finish the race. Doing Wizards for Water has been one of the most rewarding and meaningful things I’ve ever done in my teaching career, ” You said. 

You would like to give a big shoutout to a few people.  

“I want to give a shoutout to Mr. Ramos who has done every race with us every year and Mr. Camacho has ran with us in 2017 and also ran with us this year. Without their participation, it would have been ten times harder. Also, a big shoutout to Mrs. Groff who has chaperoned every year for us, and shoutout to Mr. Voight and Dr. Apps for helping approve and fund portions of this activity.”