BRANDON (FOX 13) - A class of 6th graders in Brandon were inspired by a young man from Canada to make sure people in every corner of the world have access to clean water.
Students at Burns Middle School in Brandon were bursting with excitement to meet their inspiration. Ryan Hreljac came from Canada to celebrate with the students for winning the Ryan's Well contest.
Hreljac is the founder of the Ryan's Well Foundation. Now 22, Ryan was six when he built his first well. He raised his hand in class after learning that students in Africa walked two miles to get clean drinking water.
"I thought, 'If someone couldn't even go to school because they had to spend their entire day getting clean water, that that wasn't fair at all, and if I could do something small to help out then I wanted to do everything that I could," Ryan said.
The students at Burns Middle felt the same dismay as Ryan, so they raised more than $1,300 to build a well in Africa, just like Ryan did when he was younger.
With the help of family and friends, Ryan was able to collect enough money to build the well. At age 9, he started the Ryan's Well Foundation, building clean water wells for impoverished countries. The foundation built more than 1,000 wells in 16 years.
"By raising your hand, doing something small about the thing that you are passionate about, you care about, who knows where it will lead?" Ryan said. "The message is that you don't have to wait until you are a grown-up to have all the answers, to be someone important, to make a different in the world."
Ryan believes you are never too young or too old to make a difference - something these students are learning at a very young age.
Even today, there are more than 700 million people worldwide who don't have access to clean water.