I’m writing with a joyful heart to tell you about Ayden, pictured here along with the Thank You card he sent me. Ayden received a $1,000 Upside of Hunger Bursary (the very first!) which he has put towards tuition in the Engineering Program at UBCO. In case you don’t recall, every penny of profit from The Upside of Hunger sales goes to fund these bursaries for high school grads who can benefit from financial assistance. My favourite line scrawled in Ayden’s Thank You card? “I also plan to find the best opportunity to pay it forward in the future.” Now if that’s not worth the price of admission, I don’t know what is.

One of the factors we included on the bursary application form was that, in honour of Adam and the story shared in The Upside of Hunger, preference would be given to students who had demonstrated strength in the face of adversity. From reading Ayden’s application, we knew of his family’s situation. Here it is in his mom’s words, from a beautiful message I recently received from her: “Our family certainly has gone through tough times as a result of Ayden’s brother’s cancer… it was a life changer for us all. I can happily report, however, that together we managed to come back stronger and more resilient than ever and at 14, it caused Ayden to see what was important and work harder than ever to attain his goals. I can attest that your bursary will be well spent, as Ayden grinds through his schoolwork like no one else I know. I thought you would appreciate some photos of him hard at work at his home office while doing his UBCO schooling online during this COVID pandemic…”.

I feel really honoured to be part of Ayden’s story in a small way, helping him reach his goals… and perhaps to even have inspired him towards acts of kindness and generosity in his lifetime.