A deadly explosion half a world away prompted a group of Wellesley boys to think globally and act locally, as they organized a fundraiser for relief efforts in Lebanon.
Their 10-kilometre bike ride came about following the August explosion in Beirut that killed more than 200, injured some 7,000 and left some 300,000 people temporarily homeless.
Wellesley’s Ali Khan, a Grade 10 at Waterloo-Oxford District Secondary school, came up with the idea to gather up some friends after being inspired by an Islamic relief fundraiser to support those affected by the disaster. The group of 15-16-year olds attend school together and enjoy spending their time volunteering, playing basketball and biking.
“I know a family friend who works in Islamic relief and they [were having] an event like an outdoor movie night to raise money for Lebanon. And I couldn’t make it there because my parents are busy. And then I asked him if we could like help out in our city, and he said, ‘Yeah, you just got to do a bike ride.’”
The trek was 10 km, and saw Khan accompanied by six other friends. The trip took the group between 45 minutes to an hour to complete.
The boys’ monetary goal was to raise $300 and they were successfully able to bring in between $500 and $600 through donations.
Wellesley Mayor Joe Nowak was involved in the ride by giving the boys permission to cycle the streets. “I can’t say enough about the youth in this community and the work that they’ve done to put this program together. And to have somebody in the small village of Wellesley, I mean we’re 3,200 people in this town,” said Nowak in a video on the Islamic Relief Canada’s Youtube channel titled ‘A Bike Ride for Change in Wellesley Ontario, Islamic Relief Canada’ that documents the boys’ effort.
The boys knew they were going to be filmed throughout the day but thought it was going to be for Instagram and were pleasantly surprised when they found out it would be on YouTube.
The participants say they had a blast doing the trek and definitely want to do one again after the cold weather passes. This isn’t the first time they’ve come together to volunteer their time to the Wellesley Youth Advisory Council.
Carter Trusell, one of the participants, said he hopes that other youth in smaller rural communities can see the boys’ achievement as an inspiration for an effort of their own.
“I think that it put out a message that just because we’re a small community, and maybe we don’t have the resources some bigger communities would have, you can still do something and you can still make a change,” said Trusell
“A little thing will make a big difference,” added Khan.