HOW IT BEGAN
My name is Ryan Hann I am a 13-year-old competitive swimmer with the Orangeville Otters Swim Club. I train 13 hours over 6 days a week with competitions on weekends from September to June. In the Summer of 2018, during my break from swimming, I created a campaign called ‘Will Swim for Food’. I swam 200 laps a day for a week, a total of 35 km to raise money and food for the Orangeville Food Bank. I was really fortunate to have a couple of experiences that inspired me to help my community.
In grade six, my teacher Mr. Aldaine Hunt at The Maples Academy, gave our class a project where we had to create a fundraiser for a local charity. The project was pretty intense as we had to include marketing, expenses and all details involved in organizing a fundraiser. I learned so much and really enjoyed working on this project.
In December 2017, my family volunteered with the St. Vincent de Paul Society and helped sort Christmas Hampers for families that needed assistance putting together a Christmas dinner. It really made me aware that people in my community need help, something I had never thought about before.
These two experiences made me want to do something to help my community. It made sense to contact our local food bank because I eat a lot of food with the amount of training, I do each week. It’s sad to think that people go without food. Some kids might not even have enough food to do their best in school, let alone do something like swimming. This is where I decided to use my passion for swimming to help the Orangeville Food Bank. I picked August for my swim week, as that’s when I am off for the Summer from school and swimming, but it is also a really slow time for the food bank to get donations. Christmas and Thanksgiving are the most popular times of the year for donations, but people need food all year long.
My original goal was to raise $500 and 100 food items. Within three hours of announcing my campaign, I had raised $530. I was overwhelmed with the support I received from my very generous community. In the end I blew that goal out of the water with a total of $4005 dollars and 301 food items or 361 pounds of food.
While I was swimming, I had a lot of my friends come and swim with me each day. This really helped me because swimming 200 laps a day is not only challenging, it is also very repetitive. By the end of the week I was pretty tired so having the support of my friends each day really kept me going and I looked forward to seeing them each day.
Will Swim for Food is growing bigger for 2019. It was so great to have my teammates with me that I asked them if they wanted to help me next year as part of a team. Not surprising they all jumped on board. This year I am excited to say we have a team of 12 swimmers. Our goal is to raise $5000, 500 food items and swim 500 km for the week. Each of us will swim 200 laps a day, that will total 420 km for the week and we are hoping more people will swim and contribute laps to top us up to 500 km.
It is shaping up to be an exciting year. I was lucky to meet Olympian Tera Van Beilen who also works for Speedo Canada, and Olympic medalist Brittany MacLean. They are both going to swim and contribute some laps to our campaign. My team and I are really looking forward to our swim week and helping the Orangeville Food Bank.