Thirteen year old Sam Dolen learned a lesson that not many kids his age learn firsthand; small things can make a big difference. Through his fundraising efforts, Sam raised $3,060, enough for 60 children to participate in Right To Play programs for an entire year. Sam also got the opportunity to visit Right To Play’s headquarters in Toronto, to meet other people that share his ideals.
“It really kind of changed my life,” Sam said. “The first thing that really hit me was just the little things that we can give, and they have fun, and they learn really important things,” Sam said, of the Right To Play participants around the world.
Sam first learned about Right To Play while watching the 2009 NHL All-Star game and skills competition. Zdeno Chara, a Right To Play Athlete Ambassador, won the hardest shot competition and donated his winnings to Right To Play. Sam, an avid hockey and lacrosse player, listened to the competition announcers discuss the benefits of Right To Play and was immediately drawn to the cause. Sam’s upcoming Bar Mitzvah gave him the perfect opportunity to organize a fundraiser.
“My mom mentioned to me that a lot of people have a charity that they donate to for their Bar Mitzvah,” Sam said. “I had to think about it a long time but nothing came to me. Then I learned about Right To Play and looked it up.”
Sam also used his Bar Mitzvah as a way to spread Right To Play’s message to his friends and family.
Guests received Right To Play’s trademark Red Balls and watched film clips about Right To Play.
“Sam really enjoyed teaching his friends about Right To Play. A lot of people commented that they were happy to have learned about it,” said Sam’s mom, Marty Ross-Dolen.
Sam was given an even deeper look into Right To Play when he visited Toronto over spring break to see the Hockey Hall of Fame. Right To Play arranged for Sam to visit its headquarters in downtown Toronto where Sam met founder and CEO Johann Koss as well as Canadian news anchor Heather Hiscox.
The visit was inspirational for Sam, who now sports his yellow Right To Play fleece whenever possible, and plans to continue his involvement with Right To Play in the future.
“The first thing I did when I walked out of there (Right To Play’s headquarters), I asked my mom, ‘How old do I have to be to go to Africa with Right To Play?’”