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Ryan Hann, front, will be joined by 11 friends this year.Jeff Bowen/Handout

The donors: Ryan Hann, family and friends

The gift: Raising $9,000

The cause: The Orangeville Food Bank

When Ryan Hann was in Grade 6, his class did a mock fundraising project to learn about charities.

He enjoyed the class project so much that he’s now launched his own fundraising campaign called Will Swim for Food to raise money for the Orangeville Food Bank. “I thought why can’t I do it myself,” said Ryan, 13, who lives in Mono, Ont., about 90 kilometres northwest of Toronto, and competes with the Orangeville Otters Swim Club. Last summer, Ryan swam five km a day for seven days and he hoped to raise about $500 and 100 food items for the food bank. Instead, he pulled in $4,000 and 300 items.

This year’s event will be even bigger, as 11 friends are joining Ryan for the same swim. All 12 plan to swim five km a day for a week, and they are encouraging others to join them to help bring the total distance covered to 500 km. Paralympian Tess Routliffe has agreed to swim some laps for the cause along with Olympians Tera Van Beilen and Brittany MacLean. The event starts on Aug. 18 and the group is hoping to raise $5,000 and collect 500 items for the food bank. Ryan’s sister, Lara, and two other swimmers, Emily Smyth and Noah Halkett, have also started raising money through food drives and fundraising initiatives.

“We’re off to a really good start,” Ryan said. When asked why he wanted to support the food bank, he replied: “Knowing that people don’t go with three meals a day didn’t make me feel good."