Francis Fulton first participated in Ride for Refuge, a family-friendly Canada-wide fundraiser in 2019. Now, three years later, he wants to break records.
Meet Francis Fulton, the Vancouver native fundraising and advocating for refugees by biking 50 kilometres in the Ride for Refuge.
By Hannah Scott
Three years ago, Francis Fulton was rushing through a mall in Vancouver when he came across a fundraiser for UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency. At the time, he didn’t think he had time to stop and talk to the person who was looking for others to support refugees. But after listening, he’s glad he did. Now, Fulton is participating in Ride for Refuge for the third year in a row, with the goal of supporting refugees through UNHCR.
“Ultimately, I want to beat my goal from last year,” Fulton says. “I want to keep it going.”
Ride for Refuge is a family-friendly cycling and walking fundraiser that supports organizations that provide refuge and hope for the displaced, vulnerable, and exploited–like UNHCR, who is mandated to protect refugees worldwide. Through Ride for Refuge, fundraisers can ride, walk, or “freestyle” to raise funds. That means that people aren’t limited to lacing up their runners or hopping on their two-wheeler to help raise money to support refugees: they can participate in their favourite activity of their choosing. “I noticed that the first year I did Ride for Refuge, it was just cycling or running or walking,” says Fulton. “Now there’s all types of other things–crafting, baking, writing, playing video games–so it doesn’t matter how you do it. It’s all for the same purpose.”
Fulton himself will be participating in a 50-kilometre solo bike ride on October 2, 2021. Two months before the Ride (August 2021), Fulton had already raised more than $2,500 by reaching out to friends and family. Local businesses like On Top Bike Shop, Donaldson Ropes, Have a Rice Day.com, Home ReWorks and Warm Buddy Company have been some of Fulton’s biggest supporters each year. “People really do care,” he says.
When Fulton first participated in the Ride for Refuge in 2019, the number of displaced persons worldwide was 70.8 million. Now, the displaced population has risen to 82.5 million, a figure which illustrates the severity of the displacement crisis–and why fundraisers like Ride for Refuge are so important.
One of the reasons Fulton keeps coming back to participate in Ride for Refuge is how easy the process is.
“I think Ride for Refuge is great because it sets it up for you,” he explains. “The website is there and it’s easy for people to donate.”
When asked why he donates to UNHCR, Fulton says that it’s all about credibility. “UNHCR has been around since the Second World War, and their work speaks for themselves. It’s a well-known organization that has proven its record over the years.”
Fulton’s dedication and perseverance is at the heart of UNHCR’s mission and the Ride for Refuge’s goal. “Each year, I want to raise more money than I did the previous year,” says Fulton. “I want to see how many years I can keep that going for.”