What were your hobbies as a 12-year-old? Playing video games? Collecting baseball cards? Hanging out at the pool?
How about running a marathon to help combat blindness for children in need? And then running 50 more marathons? And then starting your own campaign for the same cause? These are some of the hobbies of 12-year-old Nikolas Toocheck.
Nikolas Toocheck, a young philanthropist, is running a marathon in each of the 50 U.S. states to raise money for the Seva Foundation, a non-profit organization that provides critical vision care to people in need around the world.
The idea of running to help others is not new to Toocheck. At age nine, Toocheck started a philanthropic campaign to help children in need called Running the World for Children. Funds raised from his campaign support Seva’s pediatric programs to prevent blindness and preserve eyesight.
At age 11, Nikolas became the youngest person in history to complete a marathon on each continent. Through this campaign, he raised over $42,000 that provided more than 2,100 children in need with new winter coats from the non-profit Operation Warm.
So what in the world motivated this middle-school boy to take on these incredible feats? Nikolas’s inspiration for running and his passion for helping kids see both came from his father. Nikolas’s father is an eye doctor who has volunteered countless times all over the world providing eye care to people in need. Nikolas learned all about this critical need while growing up.
Nikolas discovered his love for running when he began to run with his dad – his greatest inspiration. Nikolas ran his first 5k when he was only five years old, mostly on his dad’s shoulders. Nikolas’s dad, who has run many marathons, began to train for the Air Force Reserves when Nikolas was six years old. Nikolas decided he wanted to train with him. At age six, he ran his first race solely on his own two feet and hasn’t stopped running since.
An estimated 500,000 children become blind each year. Most live in developing countries. By providing access to proper eye care, 80% of blindness and low-vision can be prevented or cured.
“I can’t imagine not being able to see,” says Nikolas, “and I really hope that I can help change that for a lot of kids.”
With 37 years of experience, Seva is a leading innovator in the delivery of vital sight-saving eye care services. Seva’s programs have a special effort to reach children, the most vulnerable members of our human community. Seva’s Director of Development, Julie Nestingen, notes, “It is wonderful to see the focus and commitment Nikolas has for making a difference in the world and he sets a beautiful example for other young people to realize that they ‘don’t have to be big to make a difference.’ Seva is honored to have his level of commitment from our supporters – regardless of age – Nikolas is breaking records at many levels.”
“Do what you love for good.”- Nikolas Toocheck
Nikolas is proud to receive distinguished honors for his volunteer efforts. He is a 2014 Prudential Spirit of Community Awards Honoree and a 2015 Jefferson Awards Foundation GlobeChanger.
Nikolas’s always says, “do what you love for good” and, “you don’t have to be big to make a difference!” To help Nikolas give kids the gift of sight, visit www.nikrunstheworld.com and learn more!