'Bottles for Bill': Water drive held in memory of Mesa man who died from heat exhaustion

A Mesa family devastated after a loved one died in the extreme heat is taking action to try and prevent their loss from happening to someone else.

Their water drive, called "Bottles for Bill," is a 10-day campaign to collect 75,000 water bottles to be distributed to those who need it most - the Valley's homeless and those who can't afford clean drinking water.

In the summer of 2013, Iraqi war veteran Bill Grimmer went dirt bike riding with a group of friends. It was 115 degrees that day.

By the time he was found, the 31-year-old had already succumbed to the heat.

"He was young, he was healthy, he was informed, he was prepared," said Amanda Ferguson, Bottles for Bill founder and Bill's sister. "The danger is out there for all of us, it does show it truly can happen to anyone and any family."

Amanda started the Bottles for Bill campaign, asking for donations of money and water. So far this year, they've collected 42,000 bottles of water - a significant amount raised at a time when communities are desperate for this resource.

"This week is full of excessive heat warnings, we’re well over the triple digits and that exponentially increases the heat danger," said Ferguson.

It's not just the homeless that are struggling. The United Food Bank distributes the water donations to more than 150 locations and has already shipped some of the donated water to hard hit communities.

"The need for demand increased, especially for clean drinking water, especially with our Eastern Arizona communities right now," said Tyson Nansel, vice president for the United Food Bank.

In 2020, the deaths of nearly 500 Arizonans were linked to heat.

"Losing someone to heat exhaustion is obviously nothing we expected," Amanda Ferguson said. "It’s a terrible thing to go through, and we just want to prevent others from having to go through that."

The Bottles for Bill Water Drive wraps up on Sunday, June 20. They need more than 30,000 water bottles to reach their goal.

Donate to Bottles for Bill: https://www.bottlesforbill.org/

Preventing heat exhaustion/heat stroke

The Arizona Department of Health Services stated the following precautions can be taken to prevent heat exhaustion or heat stroke:

  • Stay in air-conditioned buildings
  • Limit outdoor activity during the hottest part of the day (mid-day)
  • Check on at-risk friends, family, and neighbors at least twice a day
  • Drink water before, during, and after working or exercising outside

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