As the newly named Young Ambassador for Grind For Kids, nine-year-old Nickolas Sachinidis knows exactly what he’s going to do with his summer vacation: multiple Grouse Grinds!
Nickolas – who so far this year has completed four Grinds – is a young philanthropist who in the past has asked friends to donate band-aids to BC Children’s Hospital instead of giving him birthday presents. Nickolas is thrilled to accept his new title and help raise funds for the cardiology program at the new BC Children’s Hospital.
“Kids should have a healthy heart to pump blood around their bodies,” Nickolas says. “I think it’s cool to make my heart beat faster and faster as I climb the Grind. And it’s also cool to help kids who don’t have strong hearts.”
Now in its fourth year, the Grind For Kids campaign has raised more than $450,000 for BC’s sick kids. Grinders sign up and ask friends, family and co-workers to pledge $1 or more for every Grouse Grind they do between now and October. With the $20 registration fee participants get an official Grind Timer that tracks progress and ensures that every Grind counts – twice!
Grind For Kids has been honoured to have several outstanding adult ambassadors, but this is the first year a young ambassador has been named.
“The campaign is about raising funds for the cardiology program,” says Stephen Forgacs of the BC Children’s Hospital Foundation. “We are so thrilled that Nickolas has accepted this title of Young Ambassador. He has a big heart, and his compassion for sick children is well beyond his years.”
Grouse Mountain hosts several charity events on the Grouse Grind throughout the year. Grind For Kids taps into the season-long dedication and community commitment of so many local passholders.
“Even though most are just a little older than nine years old, Nickolas exemplifies our top Grouse Grinders,” says Michael Cameron, General Manager for Grouse Mountain. “He loves the mountains, he is active for his own heart health and he believes in giving back.”
Tackling 853 metres of elevation gain and 2,830 steps, most adults find the Grouse Grind a challenge. To keep himself motivated, Nickolas uses the tried and true athlete’s tool of visualization.
“I think about a big chocolate ice cream,” Nickolas says. “I imagine it’s waiting for me at the top. Even though my mom might not let me have it, the idea keeps me going.”
Like many Grinders, Nickolas uses his timer to keep challenging himself. His top time up the Grind is an astounding 50 minutes. Most adults – grown-ups with long legs! – average about one hour or more to complete the vertical hike.
“I like to race up to the timer at the top and scan my pass and check my time. Then I usually like to go visit Grinder and Coola the grizzly bears.”
A student at Gilmore Community School in Burnaby, Nickolas also enjoys baseball, swimming, skiing, golf and Lego.
To pledge Nickolas as the Young Ambassador for Grind For Kids, go to grindforkids.com/ambassadors.