Sarah Peck '05

Where Are They Now - Sarah Peck '05

At 6:45 a.m. on a chilly Saturday in September, Sarah Peck ’05 stripped down to nothing but a swim cap and goggles and dove—rather quickly—into the water just off Alcatraz Island near San Francisco, Calif. Peck, who had done the 1.5-mile “Escape from Alcatraz” swim eight times before, typically wears a wetsuit. On this particular day, however (in 59-degree water, no less), Peck swam naked. That’s right, naked. The best part? It was in honor of one big birthday bet gone terribly right.

In July, nearly three months before the aforementioned dip in the San Francisco Bay, Peck heard Scott Harrison, founder and CEO of “charity: water,” speak at The World Domination Summit. After listening to Harrison talk about the world and the need for water, Peck thought, “I get to swim in an abundance of water all the time. I can’t imagine having to look for or live without clean water.” The more Peck, a former Denison swimmer, thought about the major role water has played in her life, the more she realized she wanted to do something about the problem.

During the conference, Peck quickly brainstormed a plan to benefit charity: water, a nonprofit organization that brings “clean, safe drinking water to people in developing countries,” and proceeded to share that plan with Harrison. In lieu of gifts for her 29th birthday, she would ask friends, family, and (as it turns out) people she’d never met to donate to charity: water. Her goal? Raise $29,000. Her promise if she met that goal? A swim from Alcatraz to San Francisco in her “birthday suit.”

In July, Harrison looked skeptical. Now, he’s congratulating Peck on one of his organization’s biggest single-party campaigns. To date, more than 500 people have come together to donate $32,398 to Peck’s birthday campaign. Through charity  water, 100 percent of that money will fund water projects in the field.

“A lot of people enjoy being a part of something that makes such a big difference,” Peck says. “Collectively, we all did something really big. Every donation— small or large—made a difference. This became bigger than just a fundraiser or a naked swim.” 

Published October 2012