Skip to content

IPS students bike, swim and run to raise money for peers in Ghana

Like most kids growing up in this part of the world, Luke McKenzie, Willem Young, and Angus Duguid, the chance to go to high school is a given.

Like most kids growing up in this part of the world, Luke McKenzie, Willem Young, and Angus Duguid, the chance to go to high school is a given. Having had the chance to write and receive letters from kids their age growing up in an orphanage in Ghana, the thirteen year-olds have come to realize that education is a privilege, and one that is out of reach for their peers on the other side of the planet. This realization has them working and training hard to raise money, and hopefully offer a brighter future for the kids they’ve come to know at the Royal Seed Orphanage in Ofaakor, Ghana. On May 24th, they’ll run, swim and bike from Deep Cove to the top of Mount Gardner (and back to Snug Cove) for the cause.
The boys have been corresponding, by mail, with their pen pals at Royal Seed Orphanage for almost two years now.
Willem says his pen pal David, like him, is into sports.
“Even though we live half a world away and our lives are really different, we’re all kids, and we have a lot in common,” he says. “I asked David how many siblings he had and he told me he said he had five blood siblings, but that he considered all the kids at the orphanage his siblings. That’s a lot of love. If we were in the same place, we would definitely be friends.”
Luke says he doesn’t feel he’s corresponded enough with his pen pal, Maxwell, to really figure out his personality but he’s sure that Maxwell is a really cool guy.
“He takes every opportunity he gets,” says Luke. “He doesn’t take anything for granted.”
Angus adds, “I’ve realized I take a lot of things for granted all the time.”
This is why, they say, the work they’ve put into their upcoming triathalon is not so bad. “Every day after school, I do homework, I train, and then I work on Tri4Ghana,” says Angus, speculating that since deciding to do this in September, each one of them has probably devoted fifteen to twenty hours a week for the cause.
Luke is a mountain biker, but has spent the past year learning about road biking and training for distance. He spent his winter doing spin classes where he’s had coaching on pacing himself, and saving energy for big hills.
He’s also made an effort to get out for rides on rainy days, sunny days, and days where the streets are clogged with traffic.
“I want to be prepared for anything,” he says.
The experience of riding in traffic, he says, has taught him how stressed out drivers get when there are bicycles on the road.
Weekly group rides with MEC are helping Luke to prepare for the distance of 41km between Deep Cove and Wycliff Park.
Willem, who says he’s always wanted to swim to Bowen, takes an ice bath once a week, for between half an hour and an hour, so that he’ll be accustomed to the cold waters of Howe Sound.
“I’ll be wearing a wet suit, so that will help, and also I think the water temperature will actually be warmer than my cold baths,” he says. “I’ll also drink hot water while I’m swimming, to keep my core temperature up.”
To train, Willem has been swimming distances between two and four kilometers. The distance between Wycliff Park and Sandy Beach is three and a half kilometers, but Willem says that the currents make it the equivalent of four.
BC Ferries has been notified about Willem’s swim, and will be staying as far away from him as possible.
Angus has run track for years, but has always been a sprinter. So the 12.5km run, which includes 719 meters of elevation up Mount Gardner, has required that he undertake some serious re-training.
 “I run five or six kilometers three times a week, and ten to twelve kilometers once a week,” he says.  “I do a lot of hill training. On Gardner, there will be two portions where I’ll practically be rock climbing, so I’ve been trying to do that. I am also working on power exercises with my coach.”
The boys say that none of the money they raise will go into equipment to make their triathalon happen, that it will all go straight to their peers in Ghana.
“All of the equipment we’re using, its stuff we either already owned, or people have loaned it to us,” says Willem.
Originally, they boys had hoped to raise $10 thousand. They were unsure about whether, with that money, they would send more kids to high school for a shorter period of time, or send a few kids for the full three years.
Recently they surpassed their goal and with that came an offer from an organization called Sanctuary for Kids to make a matching donation if they reach a new goal of $18 thousand. If this happens, Tri4Ghana will be able to send eight kids to school for the full high school experience.
And when their task is completed, the boys say they plan to throw a very modest after-party.
“We’re hoping that we can get a cake,” says Luke. “And maybe Happy Planet will sponsor us and we can have some juice or something. We want to have a party with something to eat, but not too much, just something small so we can celebrate.”

To support Luke, Angus and Willem in their Tri4Ghana, drop off a cheque at Island Pacific School or go to their website, and click donate.
Also, come out and cheer them on, Saturday May 24th. Willem is expected to arrive on Sandy Beach around 11am, and Angus is expected to complete his run and arrive at IPS between 2 and 3p.m.