‘A heart to help others’: Agassiz girl raises $2,400 for poor communities during swimathon

When it came to helping others, 9-year-old Adriana “Addy” VanLochlem really swam the extra mile.

The Agassiz girl raised more than twice her $1,000 goal to help impoverished communities in Kenya. According to the still-active GoFundMe page, Addy was inspired by the story of George Müller, a Prussian Christian evangelist who directed the Ashley Down Orphanage in the 1800s.

The funds Addy raises will go to Impact Nations, specifically aiming to benefit poor communities around Nakuru, Kenya, including a refugee village as well as a community of people living in a garbage dump.

SEE ALSO: Agassiz Legion Dinner and Dance fundraiser

“Adriana has a heart to help others in need,” wrote Kim VanLochlem, the creator of the ongoing fundraiser. “During the coronavirus pandemic, the world’s most vulnerable people have begun to starve, including people living in this area. Unable to leave their homes to find work, day laborers are already out of food and are running out of time. Their greatest need is simply to eat.”

Addy wouldn’t settle any ordinary fundraising effort, though, and during the pandemic, traditional means like bake sales and the like simply weren’t possible. As a member of the Agassiz-Harrison Aquanauts Swim Club, she pledged to swim as many lengths of Ferny Coombe Pool as she could within one hour. Donors had the choice to donate per length or to donate one lump sum. As of Friday, August 7, the campaign blew its original $1,000 goal goal out of the water – Addy raised a total of $2,244.

By the time the hour was up on July 31, Addy swam 76 lengths, or 1.9 kilometres. This roughly equates to a quarter of the stretch of highway between Harrison Hot Springs and the Agassiz townsite.

“She had some of her friends come and cheer her on,” Kim said. “She was super determined and did great. She surprised us all for how well she did.”

SEE ALSO: Swim club starts new season

Kim said the family was touched at how much support they’ve received so far.

“We’re super thankful to be in an area with a pool, and we got a lot of support,” she said.

Impact Nations International Ministries formed in 2005 with an office in Abbotsford. The non-profit helps with a number of efforts around the world, including relief efforts amid disasters, fostering business opportunities to underprivileged areas and compassion programs in prisons, hospitals, health clinics and feeding programs.

Addy’s GoFundMe page remains active and continues to accept donations at this time; it can be found by searching “Adriana’s Swimathon for Impact Nations” and is linked in the online article here.


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