Wednesday, November 25, 2015   

Racer finds helping kids a sure winner

Nectar Gan

Tuesday, July 09, 2013

"It is one of the great ironies of the world that there are so many [people] that struggle just for basic necessities, often times encircled by wealth."

That thought flashed across the mind of Pete Olson, then a US college motorcycle racer, after he watched a 30-second TV advertisement of ChildFund International 10 years ago. It made him decide to sponsor children in need.

Adopted and raised by a traditional family under the influence of his foster father - a self- made man - Olson has always understood the importance of educational and other opportunities for a child.

"I figured I had no excuse not to spend what was the price of a single meal out to change a child's life through a monthly contribution," he told The Standard.


A decade later, the thought has grown even stronger as the achievements of the now racing car driver have made him feel even more blessed.

Olson, who is currently competing in Zhuhai in the Asia Formula Renault 2013 Championship, is now sponsoring his third child - Trang, a 12-year-old girl who lives in Vietnam.

"[I] keep in touch with her via letters, which are always a pleasure to read, to see her progress in school and read how ChildFund is putting the donations of myself and others to work in the project in Vietnam," Olson said.

Last December, he was able to pay Trang a visit - describing it as "one of the most memorable experiences" he has ever had.

"It gave all these years of sponsorship a human factor that you can't get through photos and letters. To walk around her school and the community to witness daily life there, compared to the privileges so many of us take for granted, it was extremely humbling and I can't wait to go back in August," Zhuhai resident Olson said.

Besides donating, he founded Racing for Children, a campaign aimed at raising awareness of ChildFund's mission through the popularity of motor racing, especially finding more sponsors for the kids through media coverage.

"It was very difficult and frustrating at first, as I wasn't well established and it was far more difficult to obtain media coverage," Olson recalled. "There were a lot of nos. But I knew that every no would bring me closer to a yes, and no matter how many cold calls and how much rejection I had to take, it was well worth it for the end result - for the kids like Trang."

For Olson, the combination of racing and charity is just perfect. "It's such an amazing feeling to be able to do what you love professionally, and at the same time use that very same thing to really give something back."

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