Today is Sky King’s 21st birthday. And he wants you to buy him a drink.
OK, so it’s not actually that kind of drink. And, in fact, it’s not really for him at all.
“Don’t worry,” King says. “It’s a metaphorical drink. And when I say I want you to buy me a drink, I don’t mean alcohol. I mean water. And it won’t be for me. It’s for a community, one that has currently no direct access to clean, fresh drinking water.”
King said like many he’s long looked forward to his 21st birthday, as sort of a rite of passage into adulthood and being able to consume alcohol legally. Only when he got to talking with people about their own 21st, most of the stories he heard started and ended in similar fashion — with drinks at a bar and then not such a memorable experience.
“It’s a big thing for people my age,” King said. “But most of them just blow it, ending up passed out somewhere, if not in the hospital … I didn’t want any of that. I wanted to look back on my 21st birthday as something I could remember and something I could be proud of. ”
King, a 2011 Nevada Union High School graduate and former student body president, is currently studying economics and Spanish at Wabash College in Crawfordsville, Ind. Last fall, during the annual Battle for the Monon Bell football game with rival DePauw University — played for the 120th time in November — Wabash students sponsored a “Monon Well-Beer for Water” campaign that raised money to build a clean water well in Swaziland in southern Africa.
“I was taking an ethics class where I learned about water problems and other issues,” King said. “I learned about social entrepreneurship, where for-profit organizations are taking on missions greater than themselves. It’s just something I learned about and something that interested me and that I got into.”
King talked about a recent Forbes magazine article reporting on young entrepreneurs doing good that discussed 25-year-old Seth Maxwell and The Thirst Project, which he created to find solutions for the global water crisis and has completed 829 freshwater development projects around the world, thanks largely to the efforts of thousands of American high school and college students.
“It’s doing charity work while having a good time,” King said. “But it’s also about having a big impact on something.”
Growing up in western Nevada County, King said he saw firsthand the generosity of his own community, whether through the support of school programs — such as the Nevada Union High leadership program or the Miners tennis team, for which he played — or for our local nonprofit organizations. Clearly, he also learned something beyond the books or athletic events.
So to celebrate his 21st birthday, King has created an indiegogo.com campaign to raise $12,000 to dig a well for a community that has no clean water, which he says can sustain a village of 500 people for as many as 66 years.
“I was originally going for $1,000,” he said. “And so far, I’ve raised more than $2,800, so I thought I might as well go for as much of the $12,000 as I could.”
With his indiegogo campaign, King created a video to call out his friends for support, or to share his link with as many as possible to make this 21st birthday celebration a reality.
“If 12,000 people see this video, it would only take one dollar per person. If 24,000 people see this video, that’s 50 cents a person. Think 50 cents and you can change the entire world for a community. It’s that easy. Let’s do it. Be bold. Be a part of something greater than yourself. You can change someone’s world.”
King’s currently home from his college campus, as he doesn’t plan to return to the Hoosier state this semester. Instead, he’s heading off to Valencia, Spain, where he plans to study abroad.
Of course, as he requests, you can wish him well on his birthday with a donation before he heads off for some real life lessons across the globe.
But if you spot him around town, be sure to thank him for teaching others a valuable lesson before he leaves.
Brian Hamilton is editor at The Union. Contact him via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 477-4249.
“Be bold. Be a part of something greater than yourself. You can change someone’s world.”
Sky King, 2011 Nevada Union High School graduate