He is not the first to run one of our ultramarathons with a humanitarian and charitable project. Nevertheless, Nicola Ciani enlightened the Ultra AFRICA Race 2023 with a special light by defending with talent and generosity the values of the Italian association of which he is a member, Charity in the World.
Beautiful meets thanks to ultramarathon
On the pro side, Nicola manages with his family a company specializing in innovative processes for cutting natural stones such as marble or granite. In terms of racing, he started in 2004 and became passionate about ultramarathon in 2012. Since then, he has raced several ultras around the world, with a clear preference for desert environments.
Quickly, he notices that some runners take advantage of their participation to raise funds for solidarity projects. Even if he finds this approach interesting, he focuses on the best preparation for his races. “At the time, I needed to have my mind free from any other subject”. As soon as he starts to feel more comfortable in this format, he thinks about creating a charitable project. His meeting with Raffaele Brattoli, an expert ultramarathon racer, will be decisive. Raffaele created in Milan the association Charity in the World which has already financed the installation of forty drinking water wells and several other solidarity projects in Africa. The association is based on a founding principle: 100% of the funds raised go to the realization of the project.
The commitment of the few members goes beyond volunteering since they pay all operating expenses on their personal money. “We’re all a little skeptical or concerned about giving money. We wonder where the money is really going. So, I immediately embraced that concept.”
And he soon imagines a project to defend at his next ultramarathon. In 2019, Nicola created the program “No water, no life”. He trains two friends to run with him while each activating their networks around the goal: to raise 5,000 euros to finance the installation of a drinking water well in a village in Togo where the association had contacts. This Team Charity in the World successfully leads the operation by raising 10,500 euros that will finance not one but two wells.
“The inauguration of these wells three months later remains one of the strongest emotions of my life. I realized on the spot the deep impact of our action. See how we were able, with such a modest project, to change the lives of hundreds of people… They could have access to clean water near their homes, without having to walk miles every day to meet their basic needs.”
Always going further in the commitment
After the success of this first project for Charity in the World, its founder asked Nicola to join the board of the association composed of 4 ultra-marathoners and 1 secretary. Nicola Ciani is now an active member and project promoter. Alongside several local projects in Italy, he took part in a humanitarian trip to Ukraine in 2022, two months after the beginning of the war.
“The aim was to bring more than 300,000 euros in medicines, but also food and children’s clothing collected by the association. We took all this aboard 2 small vans to give them to the Caritas Foundation in Chernivtsi. We returned to Italy with 3 women and 2 children whom we entrusted to Caritas in Milan.”
2023, “Grain for Life” project team invests in Ultra AFRICA Race
After a break (Covid, work, injuries), Nicola Ciani joins our November ultramarathon in Mozambique. The opportunity to form a prestigious Team Charity in the World with his friend Giuseppe De Rosa, legend of the Continental Challenge of Canal Aventure.
This time, they will defend the Grain for Life program together. The objective is to equip the Ethiopian village of Shebo with a grain mill by collecting 9,000 euros. Thanks to their energy and sincerity, the goal is reached even before the race begins! The team decided to raise the amount of the collection to 12,000 euros to also finance the annual activity of the village kindergartens that welcome about 400 children.
“I am thankful to Jérôme for being very supportive and allowing me to present the project to the other competitors at the end of the race. I have noticed how Jérôme has a very similar spirit supporting the local communities of Mozambique. I hope this will inspire runners… One day perhaps new Teams Charity in the World will take part in other ultramarathons.”
The sporting experience was also a success as Nicola Ciani and Giuseppe de Rosa climbed to the 3rd place of the Ultra AFRICA Race 2023 which brought together 17 runners from 12 different nationalities. The Grain for Life project’s new target is (almost) met. They can be placed on the highest step on the podium of commitment and heart.