Lion Mariusz Szeib echoed former U.S. President John F. Kennedy’s inspirational words about tackling the seemingly insurmountable challenge of going to the moon when he described running hundreds of miles to raise money to support children affected by the war in Ukraine.

Lions run from headquarters to Montreal“We did it, not because it is easy, but because it is hard,” says Szeib, a member of the Lions Club of Poznan, Poland.

He was among eight runners who took part in the Lions Charity Run over eight days in June from Lions International headquarters in Oak Brook, to the finish line in Montreal, Canada, where they joined other Lions at the international convention.

The runners, who came from Poland, Germany, and Ukraine covered 638 miles (1,026) kilometers between the two cities.

The aim of the run, which was first held in 2013, is to emphasize the importance of good relations between neighboring countries, to promote peace in the world, and to raise money for causes that support children.

Lions hold sign about Charity RunSince it started, the run has taken place in 16 countries, over three continents and has raised more than US$300,000 to aid children in need throughout the world.

The first run, in 2013, recognized good relations between Poland and Germany. Two runners, one from each country, ran 263 miles (423 kilometers) between Szczecin, Poland and Hamburg, Germany where the Lions convention was held. The event raised money to support children affected by a devastating flood in Germany that year.

Funds collected from other previous runs have gone to build schools in Rwanda and Tanzania, develop a student hostel in Nepal and help refugees from Syria living in refugee camps in Lebanon who needed to buy an ambulance.

The proceeds of this year’s run will go to help children who have lost parents due to the war in Ukraine.

“We have already chosen an orphanage in Lviv, which we want to renovate, warm the walls, repair the roof, and furnish the rooms,” Szeib says.

So far, the 2022 run has raised US$80,000 and is still accepting donations. How much the Lions will be able to do to improve the orphanage in Lviv will depend on how much they can raise, Szeib adds.

As challenging as it was, participating in the run provided many inspiring moments, including one in which the runners visited Niagara Falls, which had been lit with the blue and yellow colors of the Ukrainian flag.

The runners arrived in Ottawa, the capital of Canada, on the same day that Ukraine was accepted as a candidate for the European Union.

Szeib says the runners were greeted with enthusiasm throughout the trek, perhaps because Canada is home to a large Ukrainian diaspora, second in number only to Poland.

One of the difficulties of running such a long distance was for the runners to stay together, but they were committed to starting and finishing together and entered the Montreal convention as a team.

“We spread our message of peace among nations by a common run–at the same time and in the same direction and with the same charity goal. We run, we serve,” Szieb says.

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