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Chad Pregracke Selected as Speaker for Vanderhaar Symposium on April 21

MEMPHIS, TN — As the founder of America’s only “industrial strength” river clean-up organization and the 2013 CNN Hero of the Year, Chad Pregracke tells a compelling story about growing up on the Mississippi river and how his river experiences led to his unique vision to clean it up and start the internationally recognized not-for-profit, Living Lands & Waters.   

Growing up in East Moline, IL on the banks of the Mississippi, Chad worked as a commercial shell diver during his early years, experiencing the river from the bottom up. Sometimes spending 10 hours a day in the depths and current of the pitch black waters, he crawled nearly 150 miles of the river bottom over six years.   

Inspired by its beauty and frustrated by its neglect, at the age of 17, he decided to clean it up. Twenty-two years later, Chad and his Living Lands & Waters crew have organized and led over 800 cleanups on 23 rivers in 20 states, including an annual pilgrimage to McKellar Lake, here in Memphis, TN. With help from thousands of volunteers, Living Lands & Waters has removed an estimated eight million pounds of garbage from America’s waterways.   

During his hour-long talk, Chad takes the audience out on one of the world’s greatest rivers – a journey filled with endless challenges and gripping adventures. Chad’s tale embodies the importance of setting goals and illustrates how determination, hard work, and persistence pay off. Chad’s enthusiasm, sense of humor, and passion amplify his story, which he hopes ultimately inspires people to believe they can make a difference.   

He will speak at the eleventh annual Dr. Gerard A. Vanderhaar Symposium, held Thursday, April 21, 2016 from 7p.m. – 9 .pm. in the University Theater at Christian Brothers University, 650 East Parkway South, Memphis, TN 38104. The event is free and open to the public.   The Vanderhaar Symposium was founded in honor of Dr. Gerard A. Vanderhaar, a professor of religion for 28 years at Christian Brothers University, who spent his lifetime promoting peace and active nonviolence. Each year, the Symposium invites a noted scholar and/or activist to address social and moral issues related to peace and justice and/or Catholic social teaching. ​Additionally, the Symposium honors one Mid-South area college student each year with the Gerard A. Vanderhaar Student Peace Award, presented to the student who best exemplifies the spirit and practice of active nonviolence consistent with Dr. Vanderhaar’s life and work. In light of Pope Francis’s encyclical Laudato Si, the University is particularly proud to host an Earth Day speaker whose work focuses on environmental restoration.   

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WATCH: Chad Pregracke Delivers a Message of Hope at Vanderhaar Symposium on April 21 

Posted by Joshua Colfer at 3:12 PM