It all started when Holli Kervin's father, Sgt. Maj. Bill Kervin, was serving in Iraq and asked his wife and daughter to collect donations of school supplies and soccer balls.
And after Kervin's father passed away in 2006, she's been on a path to honor her father's memory by continuing charitable efforts.
"Ever since then I've kind of wanted to do something more permanent," Kervin said, "but I didn't really know what to do."
During the summer after graduating high school, Kervin went to Uganda on a medically centered mission trip through her church. This was the first time Kervin had been to a third world country and the experience was life changing.
"It was really sad and really eye opening," Kervin said. "Clean water is just something we don't really worry about. Their water was absolutely disgusting."
Kervin said the water was so unclean that she and her fellow missionaries were instructed to keep their eyes and mouths closed during showers. To brush their teeth, Kervin said bottled water had to be used.
Malaria was the biggest problem with the water, Kervin explained. Her group helped install water filters, which purified the water and made it drinkable. She also helped pre-screen nearly 750 patients over the course of four days.
A few years later, Kervin is now a junior in nursing at UT, and Uganda and honoring her father have still been on her heart and mind. Then last season, she finally figured how to combine her passion for charity and the desire to celebrate her father's memory.
She would put together a 5K run for charity.
"It kind of just came to me this summer. I used to run quite a bit. ... Then I just thought that's something that all the kids really enjoy doing and will participate in," Kervin said.
For the next six months, Kervin began setting up the "Washed by the Water 5K" event. It's been a process involving contact with the City of Knoxville, the Office of the Dean of Students, UTPD, and Mainstay Events, an organization that helps set up the various equipment needed for a run, according to Kervin.
The run is to raise money for the World Water Project, and will go entirely to buying more of the water filters Kervin used years ago in Uganda. As of Wednesday, Kervin has raised $2,500 to give to the World Water Project. With each filter costing about $60, those donations will go a long way.
"It's a lot more helpful than you would think," Kervin explained. "You might think, 'Oh, a water filter,' but it actually can give five to ten people clean water for up to 10 years. A lot of (Uganda's) diseases come from drinking that unclean water, and so it has a really big impact."
And despite doing much of the organizing, planning and dirty work for setting up "Washed by the Water 5K," Kervin said that everything has gone incredibly well.
"Everything's gone smoother than I could imagine," Kervin said. "I'm so humbled. I really am just blessed to have really great family and friends that have helped me every step of the way. ... And I am so absolutely overwhelmed by how the turnout has come along."
Michael Schwind, junior in history, was one of those friends that helped Kervin. She originally just asked if Schwind would participate in the run, but he soon decided that he wanted to do more.
"I think it's a great cause," Schwind said. "I think it's great that she's doing it by herself. She's not relying on big things like 'Relay for Life.'"
To give Kervin some help, Schwind has spread the word and help raise donations. Schwind said that most of the people he's talked to were more than willing to participate in the run.
"The first thing was to always let them know that this is a charity event," Schwind said. "Basically let them know what Holli's cause is. Once people found out what that was, they were more inclined to run, or come walk or even just to help out."
Now with $2,500 in donations and more than 75 people running, Schwind is blown away by how successful Kervin's run has turned out.
"I think it's kind of crazy how quickly people will jump on to a cause like this," Schwind said. "She's doing it all on her own, trying to commemorate her dad, which I think is great. I just think it's a really good idea, and hopefully more people will start doing it."
The "Washed by the Water 5K" will start at 9 a.m. on Nov. 4 in Circle Park. The course is certified as a 5K run, and will have police officers and members of the National Guard guiding the runners. Kervin is hoping to make the run an annual event.
Those interested in participating in the run can register online at http://washedbythewater.weebly.com.
Registering online costs $25. The deadline to register online is this Saturday night, Nov. 3. Registering at the run will cost $30. Anyone can also just make a donation if theydo not want to participate in the race but still want to help the cause.
And what about Sgt. Maj. Kervin, the man whose charitable spirit inspired his daughter to carry on the cause with this race? What would he think of "Washed by the Water 5K?"
After giving it some thought, his daughter said, "I think he would absolutely support it and be really humbled and happy. Anyone that knew my dad would agree with me 110 percent that he is one of the most selfless people I've ever known.
"I think he'd be absolutely supportive and help me any way he could," Kervin said.