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$50 million commitment from Todd and Shari Nelson to provide clean water to one million people in Africa
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$50 million commitment from Todd and Shari Nelson to provide clean water to one million people in Africa

This Giving Tuesday, Kalahari Resorts and Conventions, home to America’s Largest Indoor Waterparks, announced its pledge to bring clean water to one million people throughout Africa in partnership with the world-renowned nonprofit, charity: water. The pledge equates to a commitment of $50 million.

“We have been tremendously blessed by our welcoming community partners, loyal guests and hardworking associates to have the ability to provide the most basic need – clean water – to one million of our friends in Africa.”

Kalahari Resorts is authentically African-themed, inspired by a trip to Africa over 20 years ago by the owners and founders, the Nelson family. Known for their four award-winning waterpark resorts in Wisconsin, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Texas, the Nelson family opened the first Kalahari Resort in 2000 and continue to own and operate the resort brand today. Kalahari recently broke ground on their fifth resort in Virginia, expected to open in 2026.

“We have been tremendously blessed by our welcoming community partners, loyal guests and hardworking associates to have the ability to provide the most basic need – clean water – to one million of our friends in Africa,” said Todd Nelson, Founder and CEO of Kalahari Resorts and Conventions. “There is truly no other place on earth as beautiful as Africa – our family makes it a priority to travel there as often as we can, and we have fallen in love with the culture and people there.”

Founded in 2006, charity: water is a nonprofit organization with one ambitious goal: ending the world water crisis in our lifetime. To date, they have raised more than $800 million to fund over 137,000 water projects across 29 countries, bringing clean water to more than 17.4 million people.

“Thanks to the support of millions of generous donors around the world, we have made amazing strides in providing the joy, health and stability that clean water allows,” said Scott Harrison, CEO and Founder of charity: water. “However, there is still so much important work to do. Today, 703 million people do not have access to clean water; that’s nearly 1 in 10 people alive or twice the population of the United States.”

Kalahari Resorts’ monumental pledge, branded the “Water Colors Life Project,” continues the company’s commitment to Africa and its dedication to making the world a better place.

Nelson expressed, “We recognize our family has the unique and important responsibility to bring the lifesaving and life-giving resource of clean water to our friends in Africa in hopes of creating a healthier and more vibrant global community.”

Harrison explained, “Multiple studies have concluded that when communities have access to clean and safe water, they thrive in virtually all areas of life. The burden of gathering water falls almost solely on women and children, sometimes taking up most of their day. Having a reliable water source close to home allows communities to focus on other imperative needs like education, food resourcing and sustainability, and arts and creativity. We’re excited to collaborate with Kalahari Resorts and drive meaningful impact for those who desperately need it.”

Completing the goal of the Water Colors Life Project equates to a $50 million commitment that will be funded through a mix of substantial financial donations from the Nelson Family, fundraising events, and on-site guest contributions. “By simply visiting a Kalahari Resort, you’re helping our family achieve this monumental goal,” Nelson said. “We want everyone to feel like they have an important role to play, however they are able, in changing our global community for the better.”

As the owners of Kalahari Resorts & Conventions, Todd and Shari Nelson have been the driving force behind the development, creation and expansion of the brand since its inception in 2000. Todd and Shari met in drivers’ education class and have been together ever since. Entrepreneurs at heart, Todd and Shari started creating business ventures together right out of high school. From a saloon to a pizza place, Todd and Shari worked hard to ensure success in both business and family – they have five children and 13 grandchildren.

“The greatest accomplishment in my life is being able to work with my family. I couldn’t be prouder of my kids. Seeing them grow and learn, not only as people but also as leaders, has been truly exciting. That includes our extended family of awesome management leaders and associates who helped build this dream and will be crucial to any future success.”

Todd Nelson is defined as a leader in the waterpark industry’s consistent evolution and growth due to a myriad of accomplishments and a brand synonymous with innovation. Today, Nelson continues to serve as the brand’s visionary, overseeing the expansion and inventiveness of Kalahari Resorts & Conventions. He has been honored with numerous industry awards and profiled in many respected media outlets, including BusinessWeek, USA Today, NBC’s “The Today Show,” ABC’s “Good Morning America” and CNBC’s “Mike on the Money.” In 2023, Todd and Sheri Nelson were honored with an induction into the Wisconsin Business Hall of Fame.

The Nelsons are dedicated to philanthropic giving and corporate responsibility. Under the Nelsons’ leadership, Kalahari has worked closely with nonprofit organizations that serve local communities. Kalahari Resorts & Conventions serves as the host of many annual fundraising events, such as the United Way Duck Derby, Golf for the Future hosted by the Wisconsin Dells Education Foundation, and the annual Andy North Classic at Trappers Turn Golf Club for the University of Wisconsin Paul P. Carbone Comprehensive Cancer Center. In addition, Kalahari Field, a new synthetic sports field at Huron High School in Ohio, opened thanks to contributions of $500,000 in cash, in-kind donations and fundraising events donated by Kalahari. Kalahari also supports a variety of international organizations, including charity: water and the Nelson Mandela Children’s Hospital. Learn more about Kalahari’s Corporate Social Responsibility Programs and the Nelson Family Life Foundation.

Kalahari Resorts and Conventions in Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin, Sandusky, Ohio, the Pocono Mountains, Pennsylvania, and Round Rock, Texas, and opening soon in Spotsylvania County, Virginia, delivers a beyond-expectations waterpark resort and conference experience all under one roof. The authentically African-themed Kalahari Resorts, privately owned by the Nelson family, are home to America’s Largest Indoor Waterparks. Todd and Shari Nelson, the founders of Kalahari Resorts, were honored with an induction into the Wisconsin Business Hall of Fame in 2023. Kalahari Resorts feature well-appointed guest rooms and suites, the full-service Spa Kalahari, a fun-filled family entertainment center, on-site signature restaurants, unique retail shops and a state-of-the-art convention center. For more information, members of the media are encouraged to visit kalaharimedia.com.

charity: water is a nonprofit organization bringing clean and safe drinking water to people around the world. With powerful storytelling and a radically transparent model that ensures 100% of every public donation funds clean water, charity: water has mobilized supporters from more than 150 countries to help end the water crisis. They work exclusively with experienced local partners to build sustainable, community-owned water projects and prove each one with innovative technology. Since 2006, charity: water has funded over 137,000 water projects in 29 countries to help more than 17.4 million people get access to clean water, hygiene, and improved sanitation.


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