Student voice 5 May 2021

Global citizenship in action: Gustave bikes for charity

By CIS Communications
Photograph by CIS Communications

While most people were taking a well-deserved rest during the October 2020 break, Gustave (grade 7) was on a biking mission to raise money for Alex's Lemonade Stand Foundation. He clocked 111km and raised over $1,000 to help fund the foundation's cancer research. What inspired him to go the distance for charity?

Gustave says, “I’m really scared of diseases like cancer, heart diseases, respiratory diseases. I asked myself what I could do for Service and Action, and I thought that this was the perfect opportunity to raise money for children who are fighting cancer because they still have a long life to live, and so many other things to do and experience. I feel that it must be really traumatising for a child to experience a life-threatening disease such as cancer. Don’t get me wrong, cancer in adults is just as horrifying. But I realise that if I have cancer and someone were to raise money for my condition, I will be very happy.”

Good point, Gustave. We know that you clocked a final distance of 111 km but what was your initial goal and why did you decide to go the extra mile?
I had planned to just do 100km around Singapore with my family initially because the people who promised to donate said they would give $1 per kilometre. This meant that even if only 10 people donated, I would have raised $1000! But just as I approached the end of my target distance, I decided to do extra to make up a total distance of 111km because 111km sounds a lot better than 100km when it comes to raising money for childhood cancer. Having made my decision on the spot, I immediately set about cycling the extra 11km while my family rested with a well-earned picnic.

Why did you choose to donate to Alex's Lemonade Stand?
I chose Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation (ALSF) as the foundation because it is one of the biggest organisations fighting childhood cancer and helping children in need. Another reason I chose ALSF is because of the way it was originally started. The story of a cancer-stricken girl who decided to do a lemonade stand every year to raise money and help children like her really hit me in my soft spot.

What was your biggest challenge as you tried to meet your goal?
The biggest challenge I encountered was attempting to cycle 33km per day. There were some days when the trail I planned to do wasn’t enough so my dad will accompany me on the same trail until we hit 33km and then some.

Any memorable moments?
I had many memorable moments during this biking trip, but the most memorable one was when we were biking in Pulau Ubin and we stopped at this magnificent lake with a cool breeze in the air. There was no one around except for the crickets chirping in the trees and the fish flopping in the water. It was an exceptional experience that I will never forget.

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What do you think was the biggest factor that contributed to your success?
I think the people that I have to thank the most for making this whole experience possible was my family in Singapore for doing this trip with me and the family back in France for emotionally and economically donating way more than I could have ever imagined.

Perseverance was also key during this trip because there were some moments when I was thinking: “Why did I choose to do this, I regret my decisions now, I want to go back”, and right after that, I told myself that I’m doing this for kids in need and I cannot give up on something that could someday maybe save someone’s life.

What advice would you give someone who wants to raise money for a charity like you?
My advice for them would be to take someone with you, go somewhere that is enjoyable, ask friends and family if random people aren’t willing to donate, and most importantly, stay committed and have fun at the same time.

Wise words, Gustave! Jasmine Heath, his advisory teacher, is very proud of what he had accomplished as well. “For a grade 7 student to show such initiative by raising money for such an important cause such as childhood cancer, I just thought what Gustave decided to do was absolutely awesome!” she says. “I mean, he was on holiday and decided, with his family, to bike over 100km to raise money for this good cause. He raised over $1000! I'm proud to be his advisor and music teacher. Incredible work, Gustave!”