Daring project raises money for HIV/AIDS

When 23-year-old Echo Fettes busks with her violin at the entrance to an upcoming Stampeders’ home game while sporting green gear in support of the Saskatchewan Rough Riders, it should be known that the act is all part of a dare.


This October, Canadians across the country are joining Fettes and accepting random dares, ranging from donning a superhero costumes and doing good deeds for a week to portaging a canoe through downtown Toronto.


Such schoolyard taunts of double dares and triple dog dares are all for a good cause, supporting A Dare to Remember, a nationwide challenge raising money for HIV/AIDS in Africa through the Stephen Lewis Foundation.


“By putting myself in Rider gear, I’m probably going to receive a fair bit of heckling,” said Fettes, a Regina-native. “I might make more money busking in Stampeders gear, but I have Rider pride and I can’t really swallow it .”


A Dare to Remember rests on the thought that all across Africa, ordinary people are doing extraordinary things in the face of the AIDS pandemic. Canadians can show their support by taking on a challenge and doing something they never thought possible.


Fettes and Bernice Jacobs, an 18-year-old South African from Cape Town, are volunteering on the University of Calgary campus at CJSW for three months as part of the Canada World Youth Exchange between Calgary and Athlone, South Africa.


The two, along with their team of 16 other volunteers, are acting as community mobilizers for A Dare to Remember and aiming to help Calgarians come up with at least 50 dares.


“There’s a lot of goodwill in the world towards helping others, but I don’t think we always know how to go about it,” said Fettes, noting the challenge offers many simple ways to get involved and make a difference.


“You choose your commitment level,” she said, adding people can dare others, take up their own dares and set fundraising goals, or support people doing dares by sponsoring them.


Dares are encouraged to be declared during the week of Oct. 17–25 and committed to being completed by World AIDS Day, Dec. 1.


“[The campaign] is not only raising money, it’s getting people to do something they’ve never done before and it’s raising awareness for an important issue,” said Fettes.


“The challenge is a good idea to raise awareness and get people involved,” said Jacobs, who’s in the midst of accepting her own dare. So far she has been dared to go on air at CJSW and to learn to ride a bike.


“Students can do anything that’s fun and inspiring and resonates with their peers and campus,” says Micol Zarb, director of communications for the Stephen Lewis Foundation.


Zarb pointed to other campuses across Canada where professors are daring students, students are daring deans and deans are daring other deans. Participating in team dares, public group events and personal dares are all ways university students can get involved.


Zarb says support, in any amount, means a lot.


“You can’t imagine how far even a small amount of money goes for people in Africa,” she said. “It lifts families of out poverty and gives hope and dignity to people’s lives.”


All money raised for the dares will go straight to Africa and directly in to the hands of grass-root organizations in 15 countries hardest hit by AIDS, said Zarb.


Existing dares can be viewed at the campaign’s website and range from the healthy (running a marathon), to the kind (50 random acts of kindness in a week). There are also funny dares (performing Michael Jackson’s Thriller dance) and bold dares (bungee jumping and sky diving).


Canadian Celebrities are getting in on the action, including New Democratic Leader Jack Layton and musician k-os.


Olympic gold medalist and Calgary fire fighter Duff Gibson has a fundraising goal of $7,500 for his dare. He plans to carry a 20-litre jug of water about 12 kilometres, or three hours, from Canada Olympic Park to his son’s school in northwest Calgary, emulating the plight of African women who walk several hours each day for water.


Gibson is inviting Calgarians to sponsor his dare, or with a minimum donation of $20 people can join him on his walk October 22.


Stephen Lewis, of the foundation, will also be taking on a dare and is calling on Canadians to submit ideas.


Fettes and Jacobs are hoping to mobilize the U of C community and are encouraging interested students, campus groups and community members to check out the campaign’s website at adaretoremember.com. Donations in support of various dares can also be made on the website.


Interested participants can also email Fettes at kobewkae@hotmail.com with ideas or questions about getting the U of C campus involved.


“There’s huge potential here on campus,” said Fettes.


As for her own dare to busk outside a Stampeders game, Fettes thinks she can handle any heckling and is more concerned about the weather.


“Hopefully it’s not super cold,” said Fettes of the day she’ll be busking with her violin, “that can be pretty hard on the fingers.”

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