Last Tuesday morning Ilan Levy peddled his bike down Highway 97 on his way through Lake Country. On its own there’s nothing remarkable about that, but what sets him apart from other cyclists is his destination. Levy is headed for St. John’s, Newfoundland. Along the way he is spreading awareness for the educational needs of children in Nicaragua and collecting donations to help them.
A Canadian-based non-profit organization called SchoolBOX is facilitating the collection and distribution of Levy’s fundraising efforts. Tom Affleck, a long-time friend of Levy’s, started SchoolBox, after traveling through Central America. While visiting a small village Affleck gave a pencil and notebook to a young girl.
Upon receiving the gift her father’s eye’s lit up with excitement as he exclaimed that she could now go to school. Affleck learned that all a child needs to attend school in Nicaragua is a pencil and notebook. Despite these minimal necessities, most students in the Central American country aren’t educated past grade five due, in part, to extreme poverty.
Astonished at the difference that could be made for such a small cost, Affleck sourced a Nicaraguan stationary manufacturer that SchoolBOX now uses to supply basic school materials to children in that country. As the charity has grown, it has become more ambitious in its efforts to promote education and has introduced sports to schools to make learning more appealing to the kids, and has even started building new schools.
Levy hopes to raise $100,000 on his 8,200 kilometre long journey and he is already off to a good start. His trip started on June 7 and already his efforts have raised $25,000.
Cycling has been a life long passion for Levy who has completed endurance rides all over the world from California to the Himalayas. He says this summer’s adventure is his longest ride yet.
“It’s a little intimidating just because it’s so many days in a row. I really have to mentally and spiritually fit, not just physically,” says Levy who will average 130 kilometres per day until his arrival in St. Johns on August 26.
This is the first time Levy has seen the interior of B.C. and he’s been impressed with the scenery and incredibly friendly people who live here. He says he’s been pleasantly shocked by displays of generosity that he just doesn’t encounter in his native Toronto.
Individuals interested in making a donation to Levy’s cause can visit www.schoolbox.ca or his corporate sponsor’s website at www.sleepcountry.ca.