I couldn't resist Ben Hayward's vanstarter.com campaign though. How resourceful of him to build a "hobbit van" in order to better control his travel costs and use the skills he was learning while studying architecture at university. My only regret is that I didn't donate the first time I saw it, but I've been following his story since.
His words are much better than mine, so watch this original video when Ben started VanStarter over a year ago with the original dream explaining the reasons for building the hobbit van and how he did it (with the help of a friend).
Some items on the original list mentioned in this video may no longer be available. Initially I was drawn to the names on the maple leaf. I love the maple leaf, from our flag to our fall colours. The number on my house has a maple leaf design with it, so I would have loved to have my name added to the maple leaf.
Here's a recent video of the ongoing project showing the original names on the maple leafs (you can't actually read them on the video, but I have seen photos of the names, I imagine on Ben's Facebook page - hence my regret at not being on there).
To be honest, I didn't know if there would even be space left on the maple leaf for names, t-shirts or recipe books left when I donated recently, but my decision to support VanStarter was more to help him than to get something back. At first I thought of emailing him to ask, but then realized, it didn't matter. I wanted to help and as long as the funds reached him, that's all I cared about.
When I received the beaver/paddle t-shirt that he designed, I was thrilled and especially surprised with the creative label (though I guess if someone knows Ben, they wouldn't be surprised). He seems like a person who pays attention to detail which will serve him well in his training as well as in architecture career that will follow.
Have you seen anything like it? I haven't.
If his creativity and hard work isn't reason enough to support Ben, how about adding a little humour (coupled with advertising for one of his sponsors)? Thanks to Ben's mum for sharing some videos in our communications when she was mailing the t-shirt to me.
Having a brother-in-law who is a talented carpenter (click here for his website), I especially love the following video showing how Ben built the side window to the van.
Click here for the video. Here's the intro to the video:
"The space in my van was badly in need of some natural light so in the last week of April 2015, I decided to take on the project of installing a new side window. I designed and built every component in the window, trying to make it as interesting and intricate as possible. The window is made up of a complicated pattern of openings that is designed to be both beautiful but also to serve as heat deflection and as a visual screen to give me privacy indoors. Thanks so much to Edern, Carole, Yann, Ken, Bastien, Thibaud, and Marion for letting me decimate your basement for the duration of this project."
I wish I had thousands of dollars to donate to his campaign, maybe some day, OHCanada Sports will have the ability and finances to sponsor him (at least in my dreams it does) but for now, my next bucket list item is to see him compete and even more difficult or geographically challenging, to see the hobbit van in person.
I wish I had seen him at the Pan Am Games. There are various reasons why one of the dozen events I attended wasn't canoe kayak slalom, some of which were location, schedule and ticket availability. I will follow up this topic on a different post that I should have written months ago. For now let me say that if I was to do it again my ticket purchases would be different (and even more numerous), but as they say, hindsight is 20/20.
[As I am writing those posts that I said should have been written long ago, I am looking at my photos and remembering that I did see Ben at the Pan Am Games, just not when he was competing. I was very happy to see the Canoe Kayak Slalom team at the medal ceremony at Nathan Phillips Square]
So GO Ben GO. Look forward to following your Road To Rio!!