Inspired by Our Top Fundraiser: Cycling 1200 km for Education of Children in Serbia
The success of our Season of Giving campaign does not measure only in the number of funds we will raise. It also shows in the number of generous and kind-hearted people who recognized the importance of investing in the early education of children in Serbia and helped us spread the stories of villages of Vajska and Ljubis. We are astonished by the support we have received. Until now, over 1000 people joined the Season of Giving and put the trust into our team to open preschools for children from these small communities.
One of them is Mr. Wolfango Poggi from Florence, Italy, who decided to go on a cycling trip from Florence to Belgrade and raise donations for the early education of children from the village of Vajska. His beautiful initiative „Biking with the Wolf“ made him the campaign’s top fundraiser – he has already raised over EUR 2,000 for Team Vajska thanks to more than 30 people who supported him. Mr. Wolfango’s desire to cross around 1200 km so all children in Vajska would get the opportunity to grow with their peers, inspired us all, thus we wanted to share with you his motivation behind this endeavor.
- For starters, tell us more about your life story, so everyone would know why our team likes to refer to you as our Italian son-in-law.
I’m happy to carry that title! I was born in Forli, in Emilia Romagna, and lived most of my life in Florence. However, thanks to my wife who is from Serbia, I was able to get to know and appreciate Serbia and its people. I was welcomed with open arms from the first day I came. The years I lived in Belgrade allowed me to establish a bond with this city and with Serbia. Together with my wife, I manage an Italian language school for foreigners and every year we welcome hundreds of people who want to learn the Italian language and get to know our culture. Thanks to various life experiences, I traveled a lot and learned about different cultures. I felt at home and connected to all the places where I lived: in Florence, Granada, Milan, and Belgrade.
- Fundraising for Season of Giving is not your first cycling adventure like that. You have been combining your passion for cycling and humanitarian work for many years now.
My passion for cycling was born with triathlon, a discipline that I began to practice about 7 years ago when I finally decided to overcome my fear of deep water and learned to swim. I conquered this fear after my sister fell ill with Multiple Sclerosis. That’s when I realized that there is no excuse not to face your fears and difficulties when you are lucky enough to be healthy. The desire to challenge myself was born.
Therefore, in 2016 I participated in my first half of Ironman and decided to fundraise at the same time for the Italian Multiple Sclerosis Association. From then on, I competed and raised money for various causes. However, my biggest challenge was participating in the full Ironman competition (3800m of swimming, 180km by bike, 42km per run). I was motivated to compete by my wish to help a dear friend who was seriously ill, so all the funds raised went to the Oncological Institute of Romagna for the donation of wigs for women who lose their hair due to chemotherapy. This journey of several months of preparation concluded with me crossing the finish line and raising EUR 1,635!
- What inspired you to join our Season of Giving campaign for the opening of new preschools in Serbia?
Children are our future; the world will be in their hands when they grow up. They do not decide where they will be born, so very often they find themselves in difficult places or situations that don’t allow them to grow in serenity. That’s why I think that opening preschools in Serbia is a fantastic initiative. Having a safe place to play, learn and socialize, with the same opportunities as everyone else, is essential for children’s growth.
Nobody should ever be left behind, especially children because they cannot choose the living conditions they will be born into.
- You decided to fundraise for Team Vajska. Why did the story of this small community appeal to you?
During my childhood, I spent many summers in the village called Portico di Romagna. This small town has about 700 inhabitants, everyone knows each other and lives in solidarity. The children grow happily in nature and afterward go to schools in larger cities or go to live in other regions or countries to work. Many success stories have been born from this village. As a small, multicultural village, Vajska reminded me of Portico di Romagna and the opportunity I had to grow up in peace and have a bright future. So, I wanted to help provide the same for children in Vajska. Given that my family nurtures different cultures and I have friends from all over the world, I especially recognized the necessity of opening preschools in multicultural communities such as this one.
Exposure to other cultures, languages, traditions is fundamental in the growth process and for the mental openness of all people.
- Why do you think it is important to invest in the early education of children in small communities in Serbia?
Small communities in Serbia are distant from the big cities and with less opportunity to have quality education. The risk of “getting lost along the way” is very high in these situations and therefore investing in the early education of children that live in small communities can help them build a better future for themselves. My older son Yannick went to preschool in Belgrade and it was a fantastic experience for him, but also for me because the preschool education is quite different in Serbia compared to Italy, it provides a lot more activities for kids. That’s why I think it is important that children from smaller communities in Serbia have the same experience.
- Tell us more about your cycling journey and what challenges are ahead of you.
I decided to make this cycling trip from Florence to Belgrade because for me it is like going from home to home and I have always wanted to do something useful for Serbia by helping those in need. The journey will be divided into 8 stages passing through Italy, Slovenia, Croatia, and Serbia where I will arrive in Belgrade on May 22nd after cycling about 1200km. That is not an ordinary day because it is my wife’s and Novak’s birthday ☺.
During such a trip anything can happen, starting from the weather. So, I am training in all conditions. In addition to this, it will be very important to take care of nutrition and recovery after each stage since day after day, kilometer after kilometer the fatigue will be felt. I am in good hands because I’m being prepared by really professional trainers and nutritionists who already have experience in this kind of adventure. A huge thank you to Gaetano di Stefano, Luca Zaina, Andrea Zonza, professor Miljan Grbovic, Niccolo’ Villiger, Filippo Volpi, Olgica Andric and Firenze Triathlon. And also to generous companies Magneticdays, Watt nutritions and Pissei bike clothing that is designing Biking With the Wolf bike clothes that I will wear during the journey and a limited number that I will sell for donations.
Throughout my journey, I will meet new people and share with them the story about children in the village of Vajska. My goal is to raise EUR 5,000 and I’m sure we will get there by May 22nd.
- Finally, what would be your message to our readers and followers – why should they join Season of Giving?
I believe there is nothing more beautiful than seeing the smile of the children who play carefree with each other and feel happy and safe in a place designed just for them.
Try to close your eyes and remember the emotions you had when you were a child and played with your little friends. Share those feelings with others and stories about children in the villages of Vajska and Ljubis and that’s enough to support Season of Giving.
We’re very close to opening two new preschools in Serbia. Together we can reach that goal. Choose your team and support Wolfango and our other fundraisers today! Or, if you were inspired by Wolfango’s initiative, you can start fundraising yourself. So put your training shoes on, dust off your superhero uniform, warm-up, and let’s do this!