Cycling across Canada to raise money for charity wasn’t the original plan for Sulaiman Hakimi and Jamil Ahmadi, both from Afghanistan, who came to the country as refugees over a decade ago.

Originally, Hakimi and Ahmadi, friends who grew up in Kabul, had simply intended to bike around Montreal to explore parts of the city they were still getting to know. A few years later, inspired by an acquaintance who had made a similar trip, Hakimi proposed cycling across Canada to Ahmadi.

The 28-year-old made just one request: “I accepted the challenge conditional on adding a charitable angle,” said Ahmadi.

And that’s how Cycle for Growth — where the two friends set out to raise $10,000 for the Breakfast Club of Canada — was born.

Hakimi and Ahmadi hopped on their bikes in July 2018 in British Columbia and their journey finished in Newfoundland on Canada’s Atlantic Coast on 13 October 2018 — three months and 7,200 kilometers later.

To date, they have raised more than $9,000 and intend to continue fundraising until they reach their goal.

After fleeing Afghanistan as refugees, they bumped into each other in 2005 as they were both taking religious education classes at Laval Jamatkhana in Quebec. Thrilled at their unexpected meeting, it did not take long for Hakimi and Ahmadi to become close friends again.

Asked why they chose to raise money for the Breakfast Club of Canada, Hakimi explained he saw the organization’s work firsthand when it provided a year of free breakfasts to the students in the physical education class he taught at a primary school. He noticed a change in the students before and after the meals, and it was then that he decided one day he would like to donate to their cause.

The Breakfast Club of Canada is a not-for-profit organization which feeds over 200,000 students in 1,600 schools across Canada every morning. A donation of $10,000 would provide breakfast to 60 children for one full school year.

Myriam Brisebois, senior business development adviser at Breakfast Club of Canada, expressed how impressed she has been by the commitment and dedication of Hakimi and Ahmadi.

“Beyond the breakfasts that they will make possible for approximately two classes of students, Jamil and Sulaiman’s initiative is important because it aligns perfectly with the values that Breakfast Club of Canada embodies,” said Brisebois.

“They showcase the importance of self-esteem and they inspire others by demonstrating that one should believe in its potential and in the fact that it can really make a difference.”

Brisebois explained that the fundraising ride has not only benefited the children, but it has also inspired Breakfast Club’s employees who continuously talk about the inspiring project. 

Now back in Montreal after finishing their ride across the country, Hakim and Ahmadi have had an experience they will never forget. They have warm memories of the families and groups that hosted them in different cities along their route, and enough stories to last a lifetime.

The two friends are already talking about future rides too: “We would love to bike across countries in Asia and Africa while we have the thirst, energy, and motivation to explore,” said Hakimi.

Until then, Hakimi and Ahmadi look forward to joining Breakfast Club of Canada in the coming month to distribute breakfasts to the school children and share stories about their trip.