Two-Hour Special Narrated by Award-Winning Actress Uma Thurman Premieres Friday, December 28 at 8:00 PM ET
"I hope by sharing our story, others will be inspired to get involved and help us get water to one million people." – Chris Long
On Friday, December 28 at 8:00 PM ET, NFL Network premieres The Way Up – Chris Long & The Waterboys, a two-hour documentary produced by NFL Films.
Narrated by award-winning actress Uma Thurman, The Way Up chronicles what it means to play for a cause for Super Bowl champion and Philadelphia Eagles defensive end Chris Long, whose legacy of service stretched from villages in Tanzania to communities across the U.S.
The special opens with the trek to the peak of Tanzania's Mount Kilimanjaro taken this past February by a group of NFL players and military veterans known as The Waterboys. Led by Long and former Seattle Seahawks player and Green Beret Nate Boyer, The Waterboys summited the largest free-standing mountain in the world to bring attention to the current water crisis in Tanzania. Joined by current NFL player Connor Barwin along with former NFL players Vince Young, Steven Jackson, Tom Santi, and MMA star Justin Wren, their climb represents the hundreds of miles that Tanzanians walk every month to ferry dirty water back to their villages just to survive.
"Sharing our 'Conquering Kili' program and telling this story is deeply personal to me," said Long. "It was my first climb up Mt. Kilimanjaro in 2013 that began my lifelong commitment to the clean water cause, and now I get to share that every year with a team of military combat veterans and athletes. I am thrilled to be a part of The Way Up film project. I hope by sharing our story, others will be inspired to get involved and help us get water to one million people."
The Waterboys' journey came at the end of an unforgettable 2017 for Long. Following a Super Bowl title with the New England Patriots in 2016, Long joined the Eagles in 2017, hoping to contribute to a young team on the rise, while also looking to boost awareness for his philanthropic initiatives. By season's end, Long had gained national attention for the decision to donate his entire year's salary toward creating educational equity, while his on-field efforts helped the Eagles win their first Super Bowl in franchise history.
"Chris Long demonstrates true heroism as he leaves Minneapolis a Super Bowl Champion and ascends Mt. Kilimanjaro as an inspiring champion for clean water," said Rick Qualliotine, NFL Vice President and Executive Producer of the film. "NFL Films chronicles this epic journey from the 50 to the 19,341 with its celebrated storytelling."
The special also delves into the tragic events that unfolded in Long's hometown of Charlottesville, Virginia in July 2017 and how that dark moment sparked Long to join his fellow teammates in speaking up about racial inequalities that still reverberate across America. The Way Up features interviews with Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie and safety Malcolm Jenkins on the impact of Long's cause efforts on the Eagles organization, the Philadelphia community and beyond.
The Waterboys and Chris Long Foundation work to provide clean, accessible drinking water to communities in need. As a part of that effort, the "Conquering Kili" program unites combat veterans and NFL alumni toward the common goal of conquering Africa's highest peak, Mount Kilimanjaro, while raising funding for wells that transform communities through the gift of clean water. For more information on The Waterboys, visit waterboys.org, and to donate, text 'Kili' to 41444.
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