Imagine being in Winston-Salem and still making a difference in a person’s life on the other side of the world? Well, that is exactly what students at Ronald W. Reagan High School in Pfafftown are doing. On Saturday, March 24th, the school’s Key Club hosted a cycle-thon at the Jerry Long Family YMCA in honor of the nonprofit, Children of Vietnam. This organization is committed to improving the future and lives of children in Vietnam, through education, healthcare, nutrition and housing. Children of Vietnam has two main goals, as stated on their website: assisting children, families and communities in breaking the cycle of poverty, ill health and homelessness; and providing immediate aid to children and families in crisis.
“Key Club supported Children of Vietnam last year through a loose change drive, where we collected $600. We worked with our club sponsor, the Twin City Kiwanis, to help raise money and spread awareness for the charity. We reached out again this year to see how we could help,” said Matthew Mottesheart, a senior at Reagan and Key Club’s president.
According to Rebecca Martin, English teacher and Key Club sponsor, the nonprofit has a “Cycling out Child Poverty” campaign. Cyclists travel through urban and rural areas in Vietnam and perform charitable actions. “Children of Vietnam encourages solidarity rides, so the students thought about ways they could do something here that would spread awareness in the community about the organization and tie into the campaign,” said Rebecca.
From there, the students brainstormed the idea of hosting a marathon. Then, they decided on a cycle-thon and things began to fall quickly into place afterwards.
“Once we established our team, we contacted someone at the Jerry Long Family YMCA which is wonderful to work with and were able to coordinate the event with them,” said Rebecca. “The YMCA serves as a community staple, and they went the extra mile to helping us get spin instructions and everything else.”
The event consisted of a two-hour spin class with 40 bikes. Breaks were included during the ride. The group had a goal to raise $1,000 which would provide for 30 kids in Vietnam. Within the weeks leading up to the event, Key Club members worked tirelessly gathering donations from the community and churches. People could make a pledge per the number of miles biked, meaning the hope is to bike 1,000 miles.
“Our goal was very attainable. People could set personal goals or just make a one-time donation. It was great seeing the students working independently and together,” said Rebecca.
“For Key Club, we like to have projects that are school related, community related and international. This event helped check the international box for us,” said Matthew.
The Cycling Out Child Poverty in Vietnam event is one of the many things the Key Club does to give back. There are 150 registered members, with at least 65-70 actively participating. The club has held drives for Band-Aids for Brenner Children’s Hospital, a school-wide bottled water drive for the 2017 hurricanes, and collected $800 for UNICEF.
“Last year, I was a first-year teacher and new advisor, and I didn’t know what to expect. The Cycling Out Child Poverty in Vietnam is our biggest project this year, but there is something going on, big or small, throughout the year. It is priceless to see the students work hard and give back to others,” said Rebecca. “Matthew has done a fabulous job as president for the past two years and does a lot of work for Key Club outside of the classroom. The kids are so passionate and put in more effort than I do, and it makes it completely worth it.”
“I’ve been in Key Club since freshman year and have enjoyed seeing the club grow with projects and increased membership,” said Matthew. “The Cycling Out Child Poverty in Vietnam lets us have an impact in that community without being there. This event lets high schoolers help other children and gives them a chance to see poverty through the children’s eyes. You get to feel what they are going through and how you can make a difference.”
For more information about Children of Vietnam, visit www.childrenofvietnam.org.