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An epic swim for a great cause: Maya's swim across Lake Ontario

Grace Bonifacio August 15, 2016

Earlier this summer, we saw this story of a young athlete’s attempt to swim 52 km across Lake Ontario for charity. When we discovered that the young philanthropist, Maya Farrell, is part of our Chimp community, we had to reach out and learn more about her remarkable experience.

The inspiration behind the swim came from Maya’s grandfather. Captivated by his stories of cycling across Canada, she wanted to create a similar challenge.

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Maya is actively involved in swimming and decided to incorporate her favourite activity into the challenge. Swimming 52 km across Lake Ontario is a huge feat for anyone, let alone a young person. This challenge required lots of preparation, consisting of intensive training exercises and days and days of swimming to build endurance.

Aside from achieving a personal goal, Maya included a charitable aspect to her challenge by supporting Music Heals, a Canadian charity that provides access to music therapy programs for patients in children’s hospitals and at-risk youth.

The charity’s work using music therapy to improve physical, emotional, and mental health, and Maya’s passion of playing guitar and piano, along with her interests in health and wellness made it a perfect match.

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Maya’s close network of friends and family were huge advocates of her goal. Her parents not only offered their support, but provided resources to ensure her success. It was a team effort, with coaches guiding her through training programs and diet regimes that kept her in tip-top shape.

Eventually, her story caught the eye of news publications. It was exciting for Maya to know that people were interested in her swim. Maya’s parents supported her eagerness with the media by  facilitating any opportunities that came her way. She gained supporters beyond her own networks, with people across the country applauding her efforts and cheering her on.

Her parents also encouraged Maya to select a charity that had special meaning for her. This would help motivate her during tough moments of the swim.

Chimp came into play after the Executive Director of Music Heals mentioned the platform to Maya’s parents as an efficient and effective way to fundraise. Maya’s mother, Jenny Farrell, signed up for Chimp, created a Giving Group fundraising page, and used it as a primary platform for Maya’s fundraising efforts:

“Chimp was a great platform in supporting Maya’s charitable efforts. The user-friendly components made it easy to set-up Maya’s account and share her vision with others. In a few short steps, the administrative aspects of Maya’s fundraising efforts were taken care of.”

With a great team behind her and a vision to succeed, Maya took to the water on July 27, 2016. After a gruelling 23 hours, heavy rain and choppy winds ultimately cut her crossing short, just 300m shy of dry land.

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Maya’s vision and self-determination led to her success. Ultimately she raised over $6,000, doubling her fundraising goal.

Maya’s story is one of courage and self-determination. Her advice to young individuals is to get involved in causes that are important to them, in any way:

“There are so many ways to help out in the community. While it’s great if you have a big goal, you can also start small and volunteer at community centres, sports clubs, hospitals, retirement homes, etc.. Try and pick an area that interests you because then you will be more motivated to help."

 Even a small amount of time and effort counts in making a difference.

Maya’s story is a fantastic example of how the community can help mould the next generation of changemakers and how a young individual can make a positive impact, all while achieving a personal goal. We applaud her tremendous effort and vision of creating change in her community.

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