The day finally arrived on Sunday, August 13 when 13-year-old Zach Hofer took his first steps on his journey to Ottawa with a Big Send-Off event. Zach has been raising funds for youth mental health and the RVH Foundation since the beginning of the year, and what a journey it’s been.
With the entire community of Barrie behind him, including the mayor and government officials, his friends and staff from Codrington Public School and the Simcoe County District School Board (SCDSB), media near and far, and numerous organizations and businesses supporting as donors and sponsors, it’s been an incredible ride. He shattered his initial goal of raising $10,000 and funds raised have skyrocketed to $55,000 and counting.
Even Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is aware of and impressed by Zach’s accomplishments!
“I have been touched by the engagement of young people like Zach on the issue of mental health,” said Prime Minister Trudeau. “I look forward hopefully to meeting with Zach when he comes to Ottawa and I certainly know he will be very well received by my government because the issue he is championing is one that matters not just to our government but to all Canadians.”
The Big Send-off featured both Rock 95 and Kool FM on site, cheque presentations for the Zach Makes Tracks campaign, photo opportunities with Zach and his now-iconic tour bus, and speeches from Zach’s mother Shelley Hofer, media personalities and community supporters. Also present for the day and part of the speech presentations was Annaleise Carr, one of Zach’s inspirations who had a successful campaign of her own in 2012.
Annaleise became the youngest person to swim across Lake Ontario in 2012 at the age of 14. She began her swim in Niagara-on-the-Lake and finished in Toronto. Over $100,000 was raised on that swim alone, with all proceeds benefiting children and families at Camp Trillium, a camp created for children with cancer. She set out on another swim in 2014, this time across Lake Erie and raised $230,000 for Camp Trillium.
“I just want to say to Zach, you got this!”, said Carr. “You’re amazing, I’m so proud of you and I’m so happy to be here. You’re already a winner in my eyes, just for having a big dream, a big heart and for trying your hardest. You’ve reached your goal, you’ve worked so hard and you’re already a winner.”
We are so #SCDSBproud of Zach and look forward to following the rest of his journey. We’ll be watching the news and on social media for his big arrival in Ottawa on September 10! For more information and updates, visit www.zachmakestracks.ca