As the Singapore sun set on the Gardens By the Bay in Singapore, Alex Lawrie, Senior, shared some pizza with friends, Emiliana Balestrini, Seo Young Lee, Sachi Shah, Morgan Venn and Jason Debrito. They relaxed by their tents, sitting and chatting when suddenly, a young man sporting a flannel, blue jeans and some flip flops approached them animatedly.
Assuming he was from another school, Alex and the others offered him a slice of pizza. The conversation was casual and fun, chit-chatting with them about the day and how they were doing. “We all had a great time,” Alex explained. “It wasn’t until he excused himself to leave, that we all realized that we had just shared a slice of pizza with the CEO of the 24 Hour Race of 2015.”
A year later, Alex still remembers that funny memory, along with the other memorable moments from last year’s 24 Hour Race. Yes, the 24 Hour Race. With it’s memorable, “By Youth, For Youth,” motto, students from many different schools in Singapore cannot wait for its return in November.
The 24 Hour Race is a non-profit fundraising organization that strives to abolish modern day slavery, with a focus on human trafficking. Founded in Hong Kong of 2010, the organization is based in South East Asia and supports charities in Singapore, Malaysia, Cambodia, Vietnam and more. The 24 Hour Race aims to bring as many members of the youth together in order to educate them about this issue in a fun and interactive manner. Within the first year of the event, more than 19 teams across 8 international schools in Hong Kong managed to raise over 400,000 HKD by running for 24 hours straight. Since 2010, the organization has raised 6.5 million HKD and has involved 120,000 youths.
One of the most original aspects of the 24 Hour Race, is its focus on youth empowerment. Not only are youth individuals participating in the event, but the event itself is organized by teens in Singapore. Paul Olsen, a senior and lover of cross country, remembers going to the event surprised that it was organized by people his age and younger. “The whole event ran so smoothly for the whole time and it’s ridiculous to think that the entire race was organized and led completely by students,” he shared. “ I remember getting to the location where the race was going to happen and seeing these huge stages and tents all set up for the runners.”
Individuals are required to go through a selection process, including 3 separate trials, one of which consists of a 30-minute preparation to come up with an oral group presentation with a solution to nearly every global issue imaginable of a developing nation. Alex Lawrie and Seo Young Lee are both SAS students and represent part of the directors’ team for Singapore, making up two out of the five student directors organizing the race. Regarding her 2-year position on the team, first as Business Development Director and now Executive Director, Seo Young shared,
“Despite the long application process, being student director is one of the most rewarding experiences I’ve had, because it gives both leadership experience and a taste of the corporate world, all for a charitable cause. I know I wouldn’t be the student and leader that I am today without this valuable experience.”
Similarly, Alex agreed in that “the experience taught me so much more than I ever anticipated, in terms of being exposed to real world business interactions and seeing how an NGO really works.” Both Alex and Seo Young have a committee, which include other SAS students such as, Ingrid Liu, Anissa Weisel, Liam Galey, Sachi Shah, Julia Herberger, Yu Young Lee, Jennifer Park and Anika Khanderia.
This year’s race, taking place this past Saturday at Pasir Ris Park, managed to encapsulate the zeal, power, and enthusiasm of the young generation. The 24 Hour Race hit all the points that not only have a positive worldwide effect on slavery, but the youth community as well. For those skeptical about running for 24 hours, Natalie Chassagne, a senior that participated last year, shared, “The 24 hour race is more about meeting new people, while running for a great cause. [Running] isn’t the main focus, having fun is.” With a DJ, henna booth, and positive community vibe, this year’s race clocked in another successful 24 hours.