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From Italy To Serbia (With Sport And Love)

He travelled by bicycle from Florence to Belgrade, to raise funds for the construction of two nursery schools in disadvantaged Serbian areas lacking economic resources. Wolfango Poggi, fundraiser and athlete of the Firenze Triathlon company, set out from the Tuscan capital on 14th May, tasked with the charitable endeavour of pedalling his way to Serbia by 22nd May. The funds he raised were donated to a project of solidarity promoted by the Novak Đoković Foundation

With this initiative, Poggi organised a sporting itinerary and an historic tour that connected his two cities in both physical and symbolic ways: the one where he lives, Florence, and the one he more recently adopted, Belgrade (his wife is Serbian). The journey unfolded over the course of eight stages, covering a total of approximately 1,200 km.

Through the videos and images posted on his website (https://www.bikingwiththewolf. com/) and social networks, it was possible to follow the interactions of this Italian athlete through each city-stage, where he met local representatives, chatted with residents and created “solidarity moments” to share news about the project. The same channels made it possible to donate funds to the relevant project, promoted by the Novak Đoković Foundation.

The journey also involved professional and amateur athletes, adults and children, and all those who wanted to join the initiative even for just a single kilometre of cycling and sharing this adventure “for love”.

We wanted to know more about what inspired Poggi to cycle through Italy and the Balkans. Talking with us, he explained that this was not the first time that he’d organised such an initiative. As an athlete, he prepares such commitments very seriously, assisted by professional coaches, but he says that the idea of confronting physical challenges was partly dictated by serious illnesses that have afflicted his friends in recent years.

He therefore strived to combine the sporting element with that of a fundraising activity, gaining plenty of success in the process, thanks to a large network of relatives, friends and acquaintances who follow him and also find inspiration in what he does.

As Wolfango reveals to CorD: “In 2016 I prepared my first “half Ironman” (1,900-metre swim, 90km bike ride and 21km run, all consecutively) by joining the “Neofiti di Runningzen” project promoted by coach Ignazio Antonacci, and I decided to combine my test with a fundraiser in support of AISM Firenze (Italian Multiple Sclerosis Association) to contribute to improving services provided to MS sufferers.

“I took part in the Florence Marathon in November 2016 with the “Run for Meyer” project, a group of athletes and friends who ran the marathon with the objective of raising funds for the Meyer Children’s Hospital in Florence.”

Finally, in 2018, Wolfango made the very important decision of signing up for a “full Ironman” race (3,800m swim, 180km bike ride, 42km marathon), and on this occasion funds raised went to the Oncological Institute of Romagna for donations of wigs for women suffering from hair loss due to chemotherapy.

Indeed, his path towards these adventures is also a motivational one. “How many times did it happen to you that you woke up in the morning not wanting to get out of bed and start a new day? How many times has it happened to you that you’ve felt withdrawn, unable to face your fears?” he asks.

But, seriously, let’s just look at those pictures taken as he arrived in Belgrade: he managed to achieve not only a charitable endeavour to help those in need, but also an entire movement of solidarity between various countries, but first and foremost between Italy and Serbia. Thanks, Wolfango, for sharing!

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