TORONTO — Daniel Freiman’s love of sports and social media has contributed to the 26-year-old’s nomination, along with nine other international volunteers, for an International Volunteer of the Year Award.
The selection committee chose the 10 candidates from 20,758 volunteers from around the world.
Freiman received the nomination from the International Volunteer Head Quarters (IVHQ) for his volunteer work as a physical education teacher in a school in Kenya, where his students were orphans and children from the slums of Nairobi.
He said sports are the gateway to opportunities. “Without sports, I would be a different person. You learn perseverance and teamwork,” he added. “It is especially important for kids who don’t have parents in their background, to learn the skills of life.”
To create enthusiasm for sports at the Kenyan school, Freiman made a sports video of the children re-enacting Game 6 of the 1986 World Series, with the original voice of the sportscaster.
He originally intended just to give the children a CD of the video, and he planned to send the video to his family and a few friends.
But “it went viral on YouTube,” he said. “In a short time, thousands of viewers around the world had viewed the video.”
He then decided to capitalize on the video’s overwhelming success. “I decided to raise funds for the Grace Care Centre [home to more than 200 orphans] in Kenya,” he said, “as I knew [that having] a sports field would make a difference for the 215 or more disadvantaged students who go to the school.”
Recently, Freiman, with the help of his brother, David, created a second re-enactment video – one of a basketball game featuring Larry Bird’s famous game-winning steal from the 1987 NBA playoffs.
The videos are on the Deadspin, Grantland, the Huffington Post and the Toronto Star websites, and they have been picked up by ESPN.
He said that in order to complete the playing field in Kenya, he has partnered with a Canadian organization, Lift the Children.
To date, they have raised $24,000. They require $56,000 to purchase the field and cover construction costs.
Freiman attended Bialik Hebrew Day School and the Anne and Max Tanenbaum Community Hebrew Academy of Toronto, and he received his undergraduate degree, in business, at the University of Western Ontario. He’s working toward an MBA at the Ted Rogers School of Management at Ryerson University in Toronto,
He said that for generations his family has been supporters of Jewish and Israeli causes.
“I love Israel and have been there many times,” he said. “I chose Kenya because I wanted to have a different experience. Recently, I was volunteering in Costa Rica.”
Freiman said that the baseball and basketball videos have been viewed more than 400,000 times in over 60 countries.
To watch the videos, visit YouTube and search for “1986 World Series Game 6… in Kenya” and “1987 NBA Playoff… in Kenya.”
Voting for the Volunteer of the Year is open until March 15. To vote, visit www.volunteerhq.org.