The owners of Orangetheory Fitness in Dana Park decided to put collected fees toward a good cause and recently returned from building a freshwater well in Bugiri, Uganda.

Orangetheory Fitness is a group personal training concept. Clients reserve a spot in a one-hour class whenever they want to work out. It’s corporate policy that whenever someone doesn’t show up for their time, there’s a $10 fee. The owners of the Orangetheory in Dana Park, Becky and Travis Renner, decided to put those fees toward a good cause.

Over the past few years, they’ve been setting that money aside to help a local nonprofit, ReturnHope International, build a freshwater well in Uganda.

At the end of June, the Renners had finally raised the $7,000 needed for the well and had the opportunity to travel to Uganda to see it built.

“The trip was amazing,” said Becky, who grew up in Ahwatukee Foothills. “I can’t even believe most people in the country live without electricity or running water. They walk up to 2 miles or more to fish dirty water out of a river and they drink it and bathe in it. They’re so ill that the children hardly go to school because they are always sick with chronic illnesses.”

The Renners spent two weeks in Uganda touring the city and getting to know the people. ReturnHope International was founded by Trent Renner, Travis’s brother. Its goal is to transform the town of Bugiri to complete self-sufficiency. The organization uses private donations to build buildings, provide business training and tools, and provide school supplies, medical supplies and other needs like goats and aquaponics systems.

ReturnHope International is partnering with another nonprofit, Wings of Grace, to help Bugiri. Wings of Grace has a goal to build a full boarding school in the town for kids to stay at and get an education. For now, kids learn in a building made of sticks and mud with no electricity. It is near that school that the well was built.

“I think what really hit me was just how happy the people were,” Becky said. “Whenever we got out of the car, the kids would come running to greet us. It was such a welcoming community. People smiled so much. It was so different from America. These people were happy with not much at all.”

The experience was so uplifting that the Renners already plan to do it again. They’ll continue to set aside no-show fees for this cause. Becky said she estimates it could take about a year to raise the money for another well.

For more information on ReturnHope International or to donate, visit www.returnhope.com.

For more information on Orangetheory Fitness, visit www.orangetheoryfitness.com.

• Contact writer: (480) 898-7914 or ahurtado@ahwatukee.com.

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