SPRINGFIELD, Mo A Springfield man is joining a group of NFL players today. The group is flying to Tanzania to climb Africa's tallest mountain peak. It is a physical challenge. But, the end goal is saving lives.
For John Bongiorno of Springfield based WorldServe International Mt. Kilimanjaro is more than a mountain, it's a challenge that will wind up creating clean water.
John says, "Water is the basis for development. You can't grow food without water. You gotta have water."
John is teaming up WorldServe International with NFL Star Chris Long's WaterBoys. They plan to take 30 people to the top of the mountain and through fundraising efforts come back down with enough money to create clean water for up to 15-thousand people.
John says, "People who have clean water are going to live healthier, they're not going to be subject to water born illness and most of the disease and death on the continent of Africa is from water borne disease and illness. "
Former Ram and current Philadelphia Eagle Chris Long says in a promotional video for WaterBoys, "I couldn't walk away without doing something."
The two groups have assembled a star studded team. Tanzania's Goodwill Ambassador Doug Pitt is supporting the project while mixed martial arts stars and military veterans plan to climb the mountain this year.
But, John says it doesn't matter how big, how strong or how tough they are, they'll do one thing at the peak.
John concludes, "All of these guys. It's NFL players. But., they get to the top, they cry."
In a media release, WaterBoys has announce a goal of raising $150,000 to raise money to create clean water wells.
The team will spend 11 days in East Africa. They'll start the visit by checking out Tanzanian water projects. WaterBoys reports that it has funded 32 sustainable wells in that country.
Chris Long created WaterBoys in 2015 and selected WorldServe International as its benefiting charity.
Here's the list of people joining the 2017-2018 climb:
*Doc Jacobs/Retired/US Navy
*Elliot Ruiz/Retired/US Marine Corps
*Jon Arnold/Retired/US Army
*Kerry Rock/Retired/US Army
*Anthony Goins/Retired/US Marine Corps
*Tom Santi/Retired/Indianapolis Colts
*Steven Jackson/Retired/St. Louis Rams
*Connor Barwin/Los Angeles Rams
*Justin Wren/Professional Mixed Martial Arts Fighter
*Nate Boyer/Retired/US Army and Seattle Seahawks
*Steven Boyer/Nate Boyer's Father
*Vince Young/Retired/Tennessee Titans
*Staff members and 8 people from NFL Films will also climb the mountain.
Tanzania's Goodwill Ambassador Doug Pitt will meet the group tomorrow at the Kilimanjaro Airport. We're told he will also travel with the climbers and support their efforts in Tanzania.