May 17th’s Trek for Teens Day 2014 was a complete success! Our participants brought their energy and enthusiasm, our volunteers kept our checkpoints running smoothly, and together we raised $5000 in support of Covenant House Toronto, Horizons for Youth, and Youth Without Shelter. The entire day was full of good memories and leaders making a difference. After all 300 participants had signed in at our booth in Nathan Phillips Square and received their group items, it was time for the Race Opening Ceremonies. Our MC’s led the group in a quick warm up, followed by an introduction to the Trek for Teens Foundation and the day that was ahead of the participants. The audience was informed of some of the issues and misconceptions surrounding youth homelessness and the three organizations that Trek for Teens supports – Covent House Toronto, Horizons for Youth, and Youth Without Shelter – were introduced. Representatives from Horizons for Youth and Youth Without Shelter set up booths in the square and received a welcoming round of applause. Our MC’s taught our participants the Trek for Teens hand sign and announced the rules for the Social Media Challenge. After that, the Director of the Race came onstage to explain the guidelines of the race and to send the runners on their way.
For the next five hours, the city of Toronto was full of racing teens. The students, identified by their black participant shirts, travelled on foot from checkpoint to checkpoint. At each station, they completed a challenge that ranged from maze-navigation to box-house construction. Quicker teams were rewarded with closer checkpoints, while the groups that took more time found themselves running greater distances across town.
Meanwhile, at Nathan Phillips Square, the fair was underway. Those who had already completed the race, as well as anyone passing through, enjoyed themselves and had some fun on our three bouncy castles. Karaoke was set up on stage and listeners in the square were treated to renditions that ranged from The Proclaimers “I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles)” to Disney’s Frozen “Let It Go”. 99.9 Virgin Radio Toronto set up a booth in the square and CTV sent a photojournalist in anticipation of the upcoming Race Closing Ceremonies.
Once all of the groups had returned from their journey, our MC’s welcomed the participants back and congratulated them on their determination. Some of the information, including the Trek for Teens hand sign and the three supporting organizations, was reviewed and the directors that had worked to make the day a reality were individually called up. Each one was thanked by the MC’s and heartily applauded by the audience. Covenant House Toronto, Horizons for Youth, and Youth Without Shelter were thanked and our Director of the Race came onstage to announce the winner of the race: Hannah’s Evil Minions! The team received its trophy and other prizes were distributed to participants who had demonstrated outstanding qualities throughout the day. Our MC’s delivered another thank you to all of the runners and volunteers on the day as the first half of Trek for Teens Day 2014 came to a close. The free concert then began and the first band was introduced.
Over the next several hours, a wide range of musical talent performed for those involved with Trek for Teens. A large crowd gathered around the stage as the tunes drifted out across the square and into the surrounding streets. After a few performances, the winners of the Social Media Challenge were announced. The winners of our “Most likes/shares” Category were Abigail Gregorio and Sharlyn Barahona. Abigail’s two tweets received 8 retweets and 28 favourites and 8 retweets and 19 favourites respectively. Sharlyn’s Instagram post received 45 likes and 7 comments. The winner of our “Most meaningful/impactful” Category was Mimi Tran. Mimi’s Facebook post described how she and her group had met a man named Kevin who, to quote Mimi’s Facebook post, “…may not be a teen anymore, but our hearts reach out to those who are homeless.”
You can see the winners’ posts below, and congratulations to all three of them!
The concert wrapped up and Trek for Teens Day 2014 came to an end. Our MC’s thanked the crowd and everyone who had participated before concluding the day. Trek for Teens would like to thank the fantastic people who have supported and continue to support our cause. The foundation itself is comprised of some incredibly hardworking individuals who also deserve acknowledgement and praise. Thank you to Michael Bazzocchi, Nicole Bazzocchi, Abbasali Bukhari, James Costa, Liana Falzone, Andrew Gubasta, Theresa Hoang, David Kwasniewski, Brian Page, Sangeetha Subramanyam, Victoria Tartaglia, Claire Veira, Alex Wichert, and Alex Zappone for all of their time and effort. Keep checking our Facebook and Twitter for pictures and videos of the day, as well as new events in the coming months!
You can see photos from the day's events here.