Most people eat cake and gather for a party on their birthdays, but Eric Gudde is running 40 miles.


Gudde is an avid runner and a technology educator at Frontenac School District.


Over the past 15 years as a teacher, he has encouraged his students to take on projects that can help others. Around six years ago RaiderInk was created, a student-led screen-printing business that serves Frontenac Schools and the community. Gudde said the business was created on a philanthropic foundation. For every item sold, $1 was deposited into “Raider Relief”, a charitable fund where the students choose how to use the funds, he said.


With the money they generated from Raider Relief, they have donated thousands of shirts to different organizations around the world, Gudde said.


In one of Gudde’s classes called Foundations on Technology, the students were tasked with creating water systems to help countries with a water crisis.


Continuing the theme, Gudde has also partnered with the company Healing Waters International, an organization which helps bring water to areas in need. Through this organization, Gudde has volunteered to raise money to help purchase a water system for people in Guatemala.


His students pledged to run several miles with him, raising money each pledge.


They were going to run together on his birthday weekend and he was going to have students walk with 40 pounds on their back to simulate the average amount of water weight people in Guatemala have to carry to get water.


Because of the coronavirus outbreak and orders from Governor Laura Kelly and local government, this will not be possible, however, Gudde is encouraging people to run “virtually.”


To run virtually, people can run wherever they want for as long as they want then post it to social media accounts. Tag Gudde’s social medias and use the hashtag #runforwater and tag Healing Waters International. His social media are facebook.com/gudde1, twitter.com/Gudde620 and instagram.com/egudde.


On Sunday, he will run a total of 40 miles, the day of his 40th birthday. He will start early in the morning at Lincoln Park. Gudde said the idea of doing the run was prompted by stories he heard, for example he heard a story of a pastor that ran 50 K for his 50th birthday. His goal is to raise $8,000 toward the cause. People can visit his fundraising page online at https://bit.ly/2Uof5Pk .


“The whole idea was to just raise money and awareness and to challenge myself because everything pointed towards this,” he said. “Being a runner this is something I am able to do to make a difference, by running.”


(Editor’s note: As long as people are social distancing, many outdoor activities will still be allowed. It is possible that there could be future restrictions on people's outdoor activities because of COVID-19.)