Thirst (2018) is the inspiring chronicle of Scott Harrison’s life from his unusual childhood to his nights as a party promoter in New York City, and finally, as the world-renowned CEO of charity: water. By using his skills as a promoter, Harrison has brought clean water to millions of people, and his life story, in more ways than one, offers a clear-eyed look at how one person really can make a difference in the world.
Scott Harrison was born in New Jersey in 1975, and as far back as he can remember, he’s had a restless drive to get things done. This energetic nature may even have saved his life early on when his childhood home had a carbon monoxide leak that nearly killed his mom.
Since he was always outside playing, and his father was at work, it was only his mom who suffered the effects of the scentless, airborne toxin – though it would take a year of recurring symptoms, such as dizziness, nausea and passing out, before the source of his mom’s troubles were identified. Yet, once the leak from the home’s heating system was found, Scott’s childhood only got more unusual.
The carbon monoxide leak caused the Harrisons to move, but no matter where they went, his mom would feel sick from the slightest scents. Strong smells like onions, hairspray and pipe smoke weren’t the only offenders – even someone’s makeup could be too much. Sometimes the family would drive out in the middle of the night to find a spot in the countryside where she could get some relief. One night, the smell of car exhaust from a nearby highway was too much, so they ended up sleeping on hay in a barn.
As a young boy, unusual excursions like this were actually quite fun for Scott, like camping out. But as he became a teenager, his mother’s illnesses became more of a burden for a kid who just wanted a normal adolescence.
Scott’s mom also became sensitive to any electromagnetic radiation in the air, so there was no TV or radio in the house, on top of there being no gas oven. Plus, a local doctor also diagnosed her as allergic to most foods.
Then there was the issue of his schooling. Not long after Scott was born, the Harrisons became a very religious family, so Scott was enrolled in a small Christian school with five classrooms that held around nine students each. It was called the New Life Christian School, and Scott hated it so much he told his parents, in no uncertain terms, that he was going to go to public school instead.
So, in 1991, 16-year-old Scott suddenly found himself the new kid at a much bigger high school. Fortunately for him, he had one skill that helped him make friends: he knew how to play piano.