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Film producer Wyck Godfrey and YouTube vlogger Connor Franta will be honored at the Thirst Project’s 6th Annual Thirst Gala on June 30 for the work they’ve done with the organization.
The Thirst Project, which aims to build a socially conscious generation of young people who will fight and someday end the global water crisis, will hold the event at the Beverly Hilton Hotel. The organization has provided more than 285,000 people in 13 countries with clean water over the last six years.
Godfrey, who will receive the Pioneering Spirit Award, first became involved with the organization when 27-year-old CEO Seth Maxwell accompanied him, his wife and his three teen sons on a trip to Africa, where they visited Uganda and Kenya. On the two-week trip, they saw how newly built wells were able to provide fresh water to whole villages.
“It was literally the most extraordinary trip my family and I have taken. We were so moved by all of the individuals whose lives were being transformed by access to fresh water,” he tells THR.
Since then, Godfrey, who produced teen hits the Twilight franchise, The Maze Runner, The Fault in Our Stars and the upcoming Paper Towns through his Temple Hill banner, has not only helped the organization with donations, but also spread word about the project to many of the young stars of his films. Godfrey has helped organize dinners with Maxwell and the cast of some of his films, such as The Maze Runner, in order to introduce them to the cause.
“I’d say it’s the most important work I’m doing,” he says. “What I love about it is it’s primarily run by young people. The whole intent of the organization is to raise money through high schools, middle schools and colleges and get kids activated.”
The Maze Runner stars Dylan O’Brien and Kaya Scodelario and Paper Towns‘ Nat Wolff are among the many young stars who have filmed PSAs for the project after learning about it from Godfrey and Maxwell.
“To me, it’s very simple: The more money we can raise for them, the more people will have fresh water and that’s the most important thing,” he says. “I’m going to keep doing everything I can to bring more attention to the organization and get more kids involved.”
Franta, who will receive the Governor’s Award, similarly became involved with the Thirst Project through Maxwell. The pair met over lunch last year, and with his 22nd birthday on the horizon, the YouTube star decided to conduct a Prizeo campaign to raise money for the organization. He asked his fans to donate to Thirst Project instead of sending birthday gifts and offered those who donated a chance to meet him for coffee. The 30-day campaign brought in some $230,000, significantly more than his $120,000 goal.
“The campaign was way bigger than I ever thought it would be and way more successful,” he says.
Franta, a former member of YouTube super group Our2ndLife who is known for his candid and often funny online videos, then visited Swaziland to see the wells his donations had helped build. “The most impactful part was when I saw the new water source versus the old,” he says of the experience. “Water from the old source was green and brown, and it was all that they had.”
Franta continues to give back to Thirst Project through his Common Culture coffee brand. The website says that $1 from each purchase will go toward Thirst Project but Franta ended up donating all the profits from his first batch of beans to the organization.
“With the large platform that I have, I think it’s very important to utilize it for better and for change,” he says. “I think it’s really positive to be an example to my younger audience. Hopefully I can instill those same life lessons in them.”
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