Right To Play Athlete Ambassadors Announce ‘Rwanda Challenge’

Canadian sporting heroes and Right To Play Athlete Ambassadors Hayley Wickenheiser (two-time Olympic gold medalist, hockey) and Kristina Groves (2006 Olympic double silver medalist, speed skating), today issued a national fundraising in advance of their upcoming visit to see Right To Play programs in Rwanda, May 1–8.

Wickenheiser and Groves will be joined on the trip by fellow Canadian Right To Play Athlete Ambassadors Jennifer Heil (2006 Olympic gold medalist, moguls), and Arne Dankers (2006 Olympic silver medalist, speed skating). Together, the four athletes will travel approximately 100,000 kilometres on their round-trip journey. They are challenging Canadian individuals and corporations to raise $1 for every kilometre they travel, in support of children in Right To Play programs in Rwanda and in 21 other countries across Africa, Asia and the Middle East.

“In Rwanda, Right To Play’s holistic child development programs are being used to give vulnerable and marginalized children in particular a chance at a better life,” Wickenheiser said. “As athletes, going on this trip and being part of this challenge is one way to let the children in Rwanda know we care, and that Canadians from coast to coast feel the same way.”

“I feel privileged to be part of an organization that provides such incredible growth opportunities and crucial life skills for children who need them most,” Groves said. “Sport is universal in its ability to capture children’s hearts and imaginations. I know it was that way for me, and I expect it will be the same for the Rwandan children in Right To Play’s programs.”

Calgary-based ARC Financial Corp., became the first company to take up the athletes’ challenge with a generous $10,000 donation to the Rwanda Challenge fund. ARC Financial Corp. is Canada’s largest private equity firm focused exclusively on junior energy.

"We all have a responsibility to help those in need in other parts of the world as well as in our own communities, and by supporting Right To Play we know we are making a difference," said Malcolm Adams, Vice-President of ARC Financial Corp. "ARC is proud to accept the challenge these four outstanding athletes have made, and we encourage other corporations in Calgary and across Canada do to the same."

Calgary Rotary South is also contributing $5,000 to the Challenge, in support of a Canadian Right To Play volunteer working in Rwanda.

Beginning today, individuals and corporations can donate online through a special ‘Right To Play Rwanda Challenge’ fundraising page at www.righttoplay.com/rwandachallenge. The campaign will last 100 days, concluding in late July. Donations to the Rwanda Challenge can also be made by sending a cheque made out to Right To Play, with ‘Rwanda Challenge’ in the subject line, to: Right To Play, 468 Queen St. E., LL1, Toronto, ON, M5A 1T7.

Right To Play is a Canada-based athlete-driven humanitarian organization that uses sport and play as a development tool for children in the most disadvantaged areas of the world. Athlete Ambassador trips to the field such as this one provide athletes with first-hand experience of Right To Play’s work and are an important source of inspiration for children in Right To Play’s programs.

"Sport and play, which has been such an important part of my life, provides hope, happiness, and an avenue to dream for countless children whether in Canada or less fortunate parts of the
world,” said Right To Play Athlete Ambassador Jennifer Heil. “I'm looking forward to playing with children in Rwanda and seeing first-hand the positive impact Right to Play has on their lives."