Six-time Olympic Medalist wants Calgary to Give Opportunity to the World's Poorest

CALGARY, May 16 /CNW/ - Tomorrow, Calgary will kick off Opportunity CAN, a 40-day event celebrating Opportunity International's 40-year history empowering people to work their way out of poverty using financial tools.  During Opportunity CAN, all Canadians are encouraged to use their unique skills, creativity, and enthusiasm to do everything from creating art to hiking mountains, parachuting out of planes to swimming great distances, hosting an event to giving up their birthday—anything that will raise funds and awareness to help end poverty through microfinance.

Six-time Olympic Medalist, Cindy Klassen, will help kick off the 40-day campaign with a special gala event in Calgary. A long track speed skater, Cindy is the only Canadian to win five medals in one Olympic Games. An inspiring role model, Klassen will speak about "Fulfilling Dreams."

Organized by a group of 10 Calgarians called Amigos de Colombia (Friends of Colombia), the gala is part of a three-year goal to raise $150,000 for a specific "village" in Colombia to start or expand the services being offered to empower people to work their way out of poverty.

In 2010, this group travelled to Colombia and were devastated by the extreme poverty they witnessed. They were also inspired by the strength, courage and entrepreneurial spirit of the everyday people they met, working against seemingly insurmountable odds. The 10 formed Amigos de Colombia and have committed themselves to raising money for this village that waits in anticipation for a life-changing opportunity of microfinance in their hometown.

"The trip was very humbling," says Dorothy Anderson, an Amigos de Colombia member, "because it showed me that the only difference between the poorest entrepreneurs in Colombia and me was where I was born. I have assets I can use, and I don't have to worry about 'bad guys' who will come and steal everything I own or kick me out of my place. These Colombians are making a better life for their families with dignity. It is an inspiration for us all to live better."

Through Villages of Opportunity, donors like Anderson are able to see the qualitative and quantitative outcomes from their funding well into the future.

"It's really a win-win scenario," says Opportunity Canada President & CEO Paula Curtis.  "Because of this long-term partnership, Opportunity is able to provide enhanced financial services in the areas where we work or are expanding to.  Clients not only receive the financial tools they need to work their way out of poverty, but they get a sense of pride and dignity in the fact that they have partners half way across the world standing with them, shoulder to shoulder, believing in their potential."

The event will be emceed by former CTV Calgary news anchor Sharol Josephson.

What:   Fulfilling Dreams Gala featuring Cindy Klassen
Where:   The Glenmore Inn and Convention Centre, 2720 Glenmore Trail, SE, Calgary
When:    Tuesday, May 17 at 6:30pm
Tickets:   $125
Contact: or (403) 295-1345
Event info:

About Opportunity International
Founded in 1971, Opportunity International provides small business loans, savings, insurance and training to over two million people working their way out of poverty in the developing world. Clients in over 20 countries use these financial services to start or expand a business, create jobs for their neighbours and build a safety net for the future. Opportunity International Canada is a registered Canadian charity and serves all people regardless of race, religion, ethnicity or gender. Learn more at


SOURCE Opportunity International Canada

For further information:

Brady Josephson      Jacob Buurma
National Director, Marketing & Communications  Communications Manager
778-384-7044       416-444-2448



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