SCOTCH PLAINS, NJ -- James Leitner walks for water. Sort of.

The 27-year-old Scotch Plains native and founder of MissionCleanWater, will run 30 miles per day for 30 days in July to raise $30,000 to fund a clean water system for the St Elizabeth’s All-Girls School in rural Uganda. 

You can call him crazy, and he wouldn’t disagree.

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Leitner has a dream -- a world where everyone has access to clean water. And he has a crazy way of making that happen: symbolic ultra-endurance running challenges to raise funds for his nonprofit MissionCleanWater. In 2017, he walked 3,250 miles from New Jersey to California while pulling 10 gallons of water to raise money for a clean water system in Tanzania. The walk, which took him 143 days, symbolized the distance that women and girls in Africa walk every year fetching water for their families. 

No stranger to endurance running as a means to raise money and awareness for MissionCleanWater, Leitner ran 100 miles in 24 hours, all on a 0.8-mile loop (that's over 130 laps!) at Tamaques Park in Westfield last fall. Before his cross-country walk, he ran a marathon a month for 12 straight months, all while carrying 45 lbs of water over his head. 

Insane or not, Leitner is making a difference. Since 2018, he has funded and implemented clean water systems that have helped 4,500 people and 1,500 students gain access to drinking water, cutting their average walk to find water from 3 hours to 15 minutes. 

But he can’t do this alone. Join James Leitner in his journey at Supporters can sign up for a Virtual Run from anywhere in the world. How you do it is up to you! Join at any point during the month of July 2020, register for any distance, run as an individual or a team. Not a runner? Don’t worry, you can donate directly to the cause at is Scotch Plains-Fanwood’s only free daily local news source. Sign up for our free daily eNewsletter and “Like” us on Facebook and Twitter @SPF_TAP. Download the free TAPinto App for iPhone or Android.'s Grand Re-Opening Marketing specials provide local businesses with social media marketing, content marketing, and brand awareness as well as the flexibility to market in neighboring towns. To find out more, click here.