Overcoming hurdles: Beyond Borders hosts virtual fundraising event

GUELPH – The Upper Grand District School Board (UGDSB) students of the Beyond Borders class of 2021 have put their resiliency to the test as they prepare for their upcoming charity fundraiser, Elevate.

Due to the many COVID-19 restrictions, this year’s event is completely virtual. It will be held June 24 at 7pm and will be accessible on YouTube.

Beyond Borders is an experiential learning program offered to Grade 12 UGDSB students. Each year, the class ends their semester by organizing, planning and hosting a fundraising event, raising thousands for local and national charities.

Every aspect of the event is coordinated by students, including marketing, organizing finances, contacting sponsors and booking performers.

Amid the pandemic, this year’s class has had to readjust their thinking and come at planning from new directions.

The class of 2021 has continued to jump hurdles posed by the pandemic, determined to organize a safe online event, which they titled Elevate.

“As a class, we decided on Elevate with the idea that our entire event is centred around over-coming and uplifting each other during these times. We wanted to tailor this event to our at-tendees as an “escape” from what’s been going on and a taste of normalcy,” said Beyond Borders chief of operations and student Morgan Eastwood.

All proceeds from the event will be donated to Doctors Without Borders, McMaster’s Children’s Hospital and Guelph General Hospital. The event is open to the public. Tickets are $30 and VIP tickets are $90, which includes access to the event and a charcuterie box with curbside pickup. Optional $8 delivery charge for Guelph, Rockwood or Elora addresses.

Eastwood gave the Advertiser a behind-the-scenes look at the event, outlining the challenges this year’s class has had to overcome due to the pandemic.

Eastwood said with everything being online, communication and organization has been very difficult. The students have had to adapt to doing everything over email, with some phone calls and lots of Google meets.

“It’s been challenging not being able to see everybody in person and organizing things,” she explained. “Typically, in person you’re able to make those personal connections with either your performers or your sponsors or really anybody and that’s obviously made it a little difficult this year with everything being online.”

Eastwood said they’ve had to jump many pandemic hurdles they’ve been faced with. They’ve been able to overcome them, but they’re not without challenges.

“It’s been a newfound challenge for us and for our teachers to get over those hurdles and to find these loopholes and try and make the best event we can despite the circumstances and despite the limitations that we’ve faced this year.”

Eastwood also explained in spite of the challenges the students have been faced with this year, they’ve remained positive.

“We’re lucky enough to have this opportunity being given to us to make this event happen and so it’s so important for us, especially during COVID, to be able to give back and to be able to finish off our high school experiences with something great and something that’s helping everybody within our community and some outside of our community,” she said.

Due to the limitations of COVID-19 restrictions, the class had to get approval from the superintendent of the school board to run the event, another hurdle they had to overcome before getting the final ‘go ahead’ to run the event.

Eastwood said they’re in the process of putting the final product together, getting videos, editing them and uploading it for the night of the event.

“So, a lot of moving parts, they’re coming together but it’s really looking great so far, and we’re excited to be able to show it,” she added.

The event will include a silent auction, speeches and a variety of performances, from singing to dancing.

Speeches from students in the class will give a look inside what it’s been like for them to plan the event, along with some of the personal experiences they’ve had at Beyond Borders, highlighting how important this program is for students.

“It’s been tough for everybody but being able to showcase what we’ve been through and what we’ve been able to put together during these times of uncertainty and unpredictability, it’s important for us to be able to see what we’ve made throughout the semester come to life.

“It’s an opportunity for us to showcase the work that we’ve put in and the sacrifices that we’ve made throughout the year.”

Eastwood emphasized this year really highlighted what students are capable of, given the circumstances.

As with the rest of Ontario, the Beyond Borders class hasn’t been in person since the beginning of April when the lockdown began. Since then, they have been completely online, with Google meets every day according to Eastwood.

“I think we’re all super grateful for the weeks that we did get in class and the time that we did get to spend together even if it was distanced and different, it was still an amazing experience,” Eastwood said.

For more information, visit the Beyond Border website: www.elevatebb.com. For tickets, visit: https://ugdsb.schoolcashonline.com/Fee/Details/42939/64/False/True.