What started out as a simple “I can do that” moment for Farit Kuri-Azamar has turned into a three-year mission to raise funds for the American Cancer Society.
Kuri-Azamar, a 2014 graduate of Sauk Prairie High School, was between his junior and senior year when he noticed a flyer for an upcoming event: the American Cancer Society Relay For Life.
“This was like two days before the event and I was in good shape,” said Kuri-Azamar, who was a member of the high school’s track team at the time. “It said if you donate $100, you get a free T-shirt. I thought to myself, ‘I could do that,’ and started asking friends and family if they would donate.”
In two days, Kuri-Azamar raised $400 by walking and running about 112 laps in the Relay. He started at 7 p.m. and walked his final lap at 2:30 a.m.
“I thought it was cool,” Kuri-Azamar said. “It was a good event for a good cause.”
After the event, he got to thinking. If he could raise $400 in two days, think about what he could do if he had months to plan.
“It was my senior year of high school and I posted on Facebook that I wanted to raise something like $10,000,” Kuri-Azamar said. “I started approaching people and made a Twitter page and Facebook. I also went door-to-door all dressed up asking people if they were able to donate anything. It just blew up from there. It got bigger than I ever thought it would be.”
Kuri-Azamar raised $5,300, walking 400 laps over the course of 30 hours. The laps were equal to 99.5 miles. That feat has landed Kuri-Azamar with the knowledge he is one of the top five volunteers for southwestern Wisconsin.
“I can’t begin to describe what it feels like,” he said. “It gets mind-numbingly destroying. I think I lost about 10 pounds and slept two hours in about a 44-hour time frame.”
This year, the UW-Whitewater junior has raised $2,000 so far.
“It’s actually kind of disappointing to me,” he said. “I have donation buckets up all over town and I have asked everyone I know very politely. I am not like a salesman. I just ask people if they can, and if they can’t, I understand.”
Kuri-Azamar is working toward a degree in physical education and currently works as a nanny during the week and a bartender on the weekends.
Walking all those miles can be taxing on a person, but Kuri-Azamar doesn’t let it deter him.
“I’m super stubborn,” he said. “If I say I’m going to walk for a certain amount of time I like to be a man of my word. Saying I am going to do something for months and then not doing it is not acceptable to me.”
Kuri-Azamar said he couldn’t do what he’s done without the backing he’s received from the many individuals and businesses that have donated and supported him over the past few years.
Matt Baier, who attended Sauk Prairie High School with Kuri-Azamar, said Kuri-Azamar always had a positive and ‘can-do’ attitude.
“My mom (Carol Baier) always donated to the Relay and then through Farit … we just kept doing it,” Baier said. “The stuff he does is just incredible. The determination and effort he puts into it is huge.”
Rod Schwegel, president of Straight Forward in Sauk City, said Kuri-Azamar’s efforts for the cause are admirable.
“I think any time a young person puts that much effort and heart into something with no benefit to their self is impressive,” Schwegel said. The energy he puts into it is borderline crazy. He really puts in the time. It’s pretty admirable for a kid this age.”
Kuri-Azamar said raising money for the Relay is just something he does.
“Honestly, if people don’t ask me about it I don’t really talk about it unless I am trying to raise funds,” he said. “I’m super proud, don’t get me wrong, but if someone doesn’t ask, I’m not going to bring it up.”
He said it’s a good feeling to know he’s putting his efforts into something positive.
“It’s been very surreal to see what a thought I had turned into,” Kuri-Azamar said. “I just wanted to raise as much money as I could.”