A Message From Mark Degan
Traveling to Nigeria in 2017 changed how I live each and every day.
Before I supply the background on how my trip to Nigeria transformed the way I think of philanthropy I want to share my goal for this post.
From now until the end of the year I am actively fundraising for the non-profit organization Access 2 Success (A2S). A2S is an amazing organization and they are doing their very best to give young Nigerians a chance to reach their dreams. They are empowering women, they are guiding young professionals to developing sound business decisions and they are lead by a wonderful guy who hasn't ever taken a salary even though he is the Founder & President of A2S. I understand there are so many worthy organizations out there that you may already be involved with; but after you aid me in raising end of year funds for A2S I'll pledge funding to your worthy organization in 2020 (just note what that is in "Optional Note" during the check out portion).
In the winter of 2017 Andrew Lovedale, Founder & President of Access 2 Success (A2S) reached out to the owners of ColorID (Gary & Danny Smith) and asked if they'd be open to sponsoring someone from ColorID to travel to Nigeria on one of their mission trips. Luckily for me, Gary and Danny asked me if I wanted to take that opening slot. The mission trip would be in July and without even knowing all of the details my initial reaction was yes, I wanted to go. I knew that I needed to talk to my wife Dana as our family of three had grown a month earlier. The idea of leaving my wife on an island by herself for a week and a half with a 3 year old and 6 month old wasn't too appealing. To further complicate things my son Finley, was born with a congenital heart defect and had to have open heart surgery when he was seven days old. It was one of the most difficult times in our lives; and all my wife and I want was for our son to have a chance --- at life. We weren't thinking about what clothes to put on a baby registry, we weren't caught up in locating the right photographer to schedule newborn pictures, it was very simple what kept us up at night. All we wanted, was for our son to have a chance at living a normal life.
When I got home that night, I talked to Dana about the trip and the opportunity to go to Nigeria. A2S would be launching a business incubator program and I'd be able to help guide and aid a number of inspiring young professionals. We'd also be hosting a women's empowerment camp and a vacation bible school. After discussing the in's and out's of the trip I realized why I really wanted to go --- because it was the right thing to do, period.
At 7 days old, Finley had that successful heart surgery and it now allows him to live a normal life until a future upgrade is needed. Call it paying it forward or doing the right thing when called upon, we knew the right decision was for me to go on this trip to help where I could.
Upon arriving in Nigeria the sights, smells and hustle/bustle of Lagos put my senses in overdrive. Throughout the entire trip, there was one consistent theme. The people were amazing and they were so very thankful that we were there. I met so many amazing people in Nigeria that were fully invested in making their community a better place for the younger generation. There was a moment one afternoon while at the After School Academy where I made a connection between our son Finley and the students we were feeding that day. Over the past months we had prayed constantly hoping that our son could just get a chance to live his life --- and then there were these kids at the After School Academy, all they needed too was just a chance to prove themselves.
Given the right guidance and opportunities through A2S these kids can make a difference in our growing world. They have dreams like all of us but it's nearly impossible for them to touch those dreams in the world they were born in. Meanwhile, here Dana and I are graced by whatever you want to call it --- we were born in this amazing country, the United States of America. Opportunity grows on tree's here and I now realize each and every day how lucky I am. I am so grateful for my family and all of my friends, co-workers and business partners I've met along my career and I want to continue to help A2S with their vision.
About This Campaign
From November to December, through faithful supporters such as yourself, we are going to spread the good news of what A2S is doing to give youth the education and opportunity to dream. Our goal is to have friends of A2S commit to creatively raise $540 before the end of 2019. Why $540? Because it costs approximately $540 to feed and send one child to the After School Academy for the 2020 year. Are you willing to take the challenge?
We want to hear about your fundraising ideas! You can use this fundraising platform, where you can personalize your campaign OR you can use facebook or instagram. Make sure you tag us, so we know how to best support your efforts!
We are so grateful for you and all of your support throughout the years! With your help, this is going to be one of the best My Dream Project campaigns to date!