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Crowdfunding for Social Good

Devin D. Thorpe

Devin Thorpe

CrowdRise Fundraiser Raises Over $40,000 In 24-Hours To Help 1,200 Displaced Syrian Families In Greece

Survivor Africa winner Ethan Zohn and his new wife release moving video to show donors exactly how that money was spent to make change in a single day


Press Release – Earlier this week CrowdRise set out on a mission to raise $20,000 in just 24 hours to help 1,200 displaced Syrian families living in a makeshift refugee camp in Greece. Third season Survivor winner Ethan Zohn and his new wife Lisa Heywood joined as ambassadors for the CrowdRise 24-Hour Impact Project, and to celebrate a nontraditional honeymoon. On Tuesday morning, the newlyweds posted a moving call-to-action video to their CrowdRise page. The fundraiser did so well that halfway through the day they increased their goal $30,000. By day’s end they had surpassed $40,000, more than doubling their initial goal.

Today, Ethan and Lisa posted a video update to their CrowdRise page chronicling their impact. Giving donors the opportunity to see their immediate impact is at the core of the CrowdRise 24-Hour Impact Project and gives people a peek into the type of work that young humanitarians are capable of.

This past June, 1,200 Syrian refugees near Thessaloniki, Greece were moved between refugee camps to Vasilika Refugee Camp: an old, abandoned warehouse converted into barracks with tents. Of the 1,200 refugees, 600 are children, who have been out of school for months, some for years. The camp at Vasilika provides them no opportunity for learning, playing or socializing.

Next to Vasilika, a group of European volunteers recognized the needs of this community, and have created a safe haven called EKO Project which provides a school, communal kitchen, and welcoming place for children to play. This project is a place of hope to refugee children and their parents who are trying to rebuild their lives.

As shown in Ethan and Lisa’s follow-up video, the work of EKO Project is vital to this community’s survival. One volunteer explains, “the people here in Vasilika are exactly like my friends and my family and my uncles and my aunties. They had a lot of things and they had a lot of freedom and now it’s all been taken away and they’re stuck here because they have to be. They’re doctors and lawyers and bankers and architects and musicians.” Ethan chimes in saying, “They’re like everyone else. They’re like us and they just want to live a happy, fulfilled life.” Lisa, holding back tears, explains that they asked these people what they want most: “a life,” they said, “what everybody wants.”

The original $20,000 goal was to help EKO Project with school supplies, winter clothing, fresh food, building materials, setting up a library, relocation support, and fulfilling a “wish list” of basic needs. $10,000+ was added to the goal in hopes of continuing to support EKO Project volunteers, who plan to stay in Vasilika as long as the refugees, which could be years.

The day culminated with a large soccer match between the refugees. For Ethan, a former soccer pro, it was immediately clear how important bringing play back into these children’s lives would be. After winning the CBS reality show, Survivor Africa, Ethan used his prize money to co-found the organization Grassroot Soccer (GRS) that uses the power of soccer and the energy of youth to educate, inspire and mobilize communities to improve health. The game was made possible by generous donations from 4POINT4 and One World Play Project.

The project was met with lots of encouragement from friends of the couple as well as from the soccer community. Tweets about the project came from Survivor’s Jeff Probst and soccer stars such as Heather O’Reilly, Jimmy Conrad, Alexi Lalas, Cobi Jones and others. Even Olivia Newton John and Katie Couric voiced their support of this initiative.

Donations are still being accepted and any additional funds will support the sustainability of this project. To learn more, visit

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