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A Champion for Children: Sponsor and Race Car Driver Pete Olson

Home > Learn More > Stories & News > A Champion for Children: Sponsor and Race Car Driver Pete Olson
By Pete Olson, ChildFund Sponsor and PS Racing Instructor
Posted on 8/6/2015

Professional racer and racing instructor Pete Olson became a ChildFund sponsor as a young race car driver in California, and during his successful career, he has spread the word about sponsorship. After joining PS Racing in China in 2013, he took his support to a new level. The team’s owner, Pekka Saarinen, expanded Olson’s Racing for Children program, which has raised significant funds for the Cao Phong Community Project near Hanoi, Vietnam, where Olson sponsors Trang. Here, in his own words, is the story of his visit to meet Trang for the first time.

 
By Pete Olson, ChildFund Sponsor and PS Racing Instructor

Pete Olson

When I went to Hanoi, Vietnam, in 2012 to visit my sponsored child Trang, it was perhaps the most eye-opening and truly meaningful moment of my life. What I mean is that after years of correspondence with Trang, watching her grow up with the help of ChildFund via my sponsorship, the visit made everything real – it turned the concept of sponsorship into something very tangible. To walk the streets that Trang walks, to see her school, to meet her family.

It touched my heart in an incredible way to meet the girl whom I felt that I’d helped “raise” for years. I have to admit I was a bit speechless, because it was such a moving moment to meet her in person after all those years of corresponding through long-distance letters and photos!

But also, as much as finally meeting her was one of the most important experiences of my life, I was able to see what ChildFund had helped build in her community: the school that Trang attends, the medical center, roads, sanitation facilities and more. Before the road was built, the children used to hike an hour over a mountain to attend school!

There was something that really sticks in my mind about the visit that I’d like to share with other ChildFund sponsors or potential sponsors. When I visited Trang, one of the first things she asked me was why I didn’t write more to her! She really wanted to know about who I was – surprisingly, she didn’t ask me about life in the States or things like this – she only asked about me as a person: what I do for work, what my family is like, etc.

This was really touching and made me realize that as sponsors, maybe it’s sometimes easy for us to not realize how personal this is, not just to us but how much we mean to these children whom we support. That we aren’t just nameless faces contributing funds, but that these children and their families really care about who we are as sponsors and are so incredibly grateful for the assistance that we can provide them.

Another great thing is that recently, I got an email from ChildFund about how sponsors can send our letters and photos electronically to ChildFund Vietnam’s national office, so the mail gets there immediately and translators can do their work online. This service is in other countries and coming soon to others, so it will be far easier to communicate with our sponsored children.

The future looks great for ChildFund, and I’m so glad that I’ve been able to have the opportunity to sponsor a child via ChildFund for more than a decade. Better yet, I’ve been able to get more people involved with the Racing for Children program that I created in 2003, to use auto racing to help spread the word about sponsorship. Last year was really the high point of that program (so far!).

Thanks to the owner of the team I coach for, Pekka Saarinen of PS Racing in Zhuhai, China, we were able to raise a significant amount of money among all the team drivers and donated it directly to Trang’s Cao Phong Community Project near Hanoi. We also found other drivers in the Zhuhai/Hong Kong/China racing scene, such as American racer Bill O’Brien, to become sponsors. I can’t wait for my next visit to Trang and see the results of our team’s contribution! I have no doubt that it is significantly improving children’s lives in the community.

I would like to close by encouraging more people to sponsor children – I can honestly guarantee you that it will become one of the most rewarding experiences of your life!

God bless,
Pete

Learn more about PS Racingand its commitment to helping children through ChildFund International.