Golfer Betsy King pledges $1.3M to help end global water crisis

After a trip to Africa in 2005, Betsy King, right, partnered with Debbie Quesada to create Golf Fore Africa to help provide clean water to people in the Western Province of Zambia. Courtesy of Ron Sirak

More than a decade ago, when Betsy King's nearly 30-year Hall of Fame career on the LPGA Tour came to an end, she searched for another place to focus her competitive passion. A trip to Africa in 2005, on which she was exposed to the horrors of the genocide in Rwanda, the AIDS pandemic and the clean water crisis, led her and Debbie Quesada to create Golf Fore Africa. On March 22, World Water Day, King pledged $1.3 million of her own money to the cause of bringing safe drinking water to everyone.

Fellow LPGA golfers Stacy Lewis, Cheyenne Woods, Kendall Dye, Katherine Kirk, Amy Anderson, Kristy McPherson and Il-hee Lee are among those who have joined King in working to bring clean water to 220 villages in Africa.

There are 663 million people in the world who lack access to clean water -- twice the population of the United States. The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, launched in 2015, hopes to ensure everyone has access to safe water by 2030.

In Rwanda, where nearly a million people were murdered in the 1994 genocide, one in five children do not live until their fifth birthday, with many dying from preventable disease caused by drinking unclean water.

King said she would donate $100,000 a year through 2030.

"If there was just one thing you could do that would really change the world, it would be to bring clean water to everyone," she said. "If the last 10 percent of the world had access to clean water, we would save nearly 1,000 kids' lives every day. Girls would miss school 50 percent less often, and women would have more economic opportunities because of time saved not having to walk for water."

Golf Fore Africa and its humanitarian partner, World Vision, have committed to raising $10 million over the next five years, which would provide clean water to 200,000 people in the Western Province of Zambia.