Former Arlington Martin tennis player makes clean water his cause

04/01/2013 8:03 PM

04/02/2013 9:31 AM

Brian Lamb wanted to be an ice cream man when he was in the second grade. Later, he envisioned becoming a dentist. While playing soccer and tennis at Martin High School, Lamb’s dream was to become a professional athlete.

Eighteen months ago, Lamb found his true calling — saving the world.

Lamb, 20, has started a faith-based organization to provide clean drinking water to developing countries. He and his mother, Barbara, have taken the first steps toward making “Replenish the World” a nonprofit.

“I want to become a missionary,” Brian Lamb said. “Long term, hopefully, Replenish becomes self-sustaining enough for that to be my living. That’s my dream. I’m learning patience right now. It’s taking time to get there.”

Lamb can’t remember when he first became aware of the global water crisis, but he now can recite the stats off the top of his head: An estimated 1 billion people — or 1 in every 7 — lack safe drinking water.

Africa is the world’s most water-stressed country, with an estimated 300 million people lacking access to clean water.

Lamb’s goal is to make a dent in those numbers with purification tablets, LifeStraws and wells. He is raising money for a trip to Haiti this summer to build a well with one of his organization’s partners, Living Water International.

“You can’t change the whole world,” Lamb said, “but you can change the whole world for one person.”

Lamb never was the typical teenager. He has no interest in the newest Nikes, the hottest cars or the latest video games. He always has been more concerned about the welfare of others less fortunate.

“It usually doesn’t take me long to know everything I need to know about my players — how to motivate them, which buttons to push,” Derek Moore, Martin High School’s tennis coach, said. “I couldn’t figure Brian out at all. I had no clue what this kid was about for the longest time.”

It wasn’t until Martin players were helping with a Special Olympics event that Moore was clued in to Lamb’s motivations. During a water break for the Special Olympics athletes, Lamb raced to the front of the line.

It was just as Moore was about to chastise Lamb that the coach realized his player was getting to the water first to serve it, not drink it.

“Selfless” is the word Brian’s mother uses to describe him. It seems a perfect fit.

During his freshman year at Tyler Junior College in 2011-12, Lamb played on the soccer team. He quit after the season for more worldly pursuits.

“God put this in my heart,” said Lamb, who attends The Church on Rush Creek in Arlington. “I was like, ‘I need to put my selfish ambition aside.’ This is a lot more rewarding than kicking a ball around for fun. At the end of the day, soccer is just a game. I would much rather be helping people and saving people. That’s what life is all about.”

Last February, Lamb met with his mother over dinner at TGI Friday’s and told her of his plans for Replenish. She was on board and now handles the accounting.

Lamb has modeled Replenish after TOMS, which has given more than 2 million pairs of new shoes to needy children since 2006. Lamb gave a presentation about TOMS during a speech class at Martin and learned afterward that TOMS’ founder, Blake Mycoskie, played tennis for Martin before graduating from there.

Replenish has raised more than $5,000 through its “buy one, give one” campaign, which is modeled after TOMS’ One for One. The purchase of a bottle of water gives a purification tablet for a liter of clean water. A case of water purchased from Replenish buys a LifeStraw, a portable water filter that kills 99.9 percent of waterborne bacteria and parasites. Lamb demonstrated the LifeStraw to his friends by drinking toilet water.

Kim Cleary and Shelia Bishop, owners of the Arlington-based T-shirt company LoveAll, heard about Lamb’s efforts through Moore. They were so moved by Lamb’s story that they are selling “LoveAll the World” T-shirts on their website with 100 percent of the proceeds going to Replenish.

Lamb’s cause has become their cause.

“There’s a vision he has,” Cleary said. “I admire that. In today’s world, you don’t find that much.”

Lamb is taking a class at Tarrant County College, and he recently applied to Texas A&M. But he would rather save the world than learn about it from a book.

His future is one day at a time.

“‘Carpe diem’ is my motto,” Lamb said. “If I ever got a tattoo — which I won’t because I hate needles — but if I did, that’s what it would be. I have a mental tattoo. ‘Carpe diem.’”

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