Emma first became involved with WaterStep, a nonprofit that focuses on clean water, when she was a sixth-grader on a mission trip to Kentucky, where WaterStep is based. More mission trips and encouragement from her brother, Nathan, who turned an internship into a job at WaterStep, have kept her supporting the cause.
After her first visit to WaterStep, Rider resolved to collect 4,000 pairs of shoes, enough to fund the installation of one water chlorinator. Within five months, she collected twice that, thanks to help from her family (mother and stepfather Lisa and Dennis Ockels and brothers Nathan and Justin) and other people that she convinced to help in speeches to schools, 4-H groups and other organizations.
Emma Rider has collected more than 70,000 shoes to help WaterStep, a nonprofit that collects shoes to either give to Kenyans, sell to raise money or recycle to help install water purification systems in Kenya. She has raised over $30,000 and helped install three water purification systems in a Kenyan orphanage.
She is filling a fourth tractor-trailer of shoes, stored in stacks of donated watermelon bins. Old shoes are ground up for tracks and other uses, keeping 35 tons out of landfills. New shoes are sold overseas, with money going to WaterStep to train volunteers and manufacture chlorination systems.
Today, thanks to the efforts by Rider and others, the waterborne fatality statistic is down to one child every 30 seconds.