Philippe Verdier, Founder No Finish Line
ML: Could you give a little of your background and your passion for running?
PV: I arrived in Monaco in July to integrate and develop Gramaglia Assurances. From ten people in 1995, we are now 34 who specialise in corporate risk.
I have been running high-level ultras since 2000, especially 100 km, 100 or 200 miles around the world, in the mountains or in the deserts, most often ranking in the top 20 or even top 10 UTMB (6th), Grand Raid Reunion (14th), Badwater (4th), Raid Ventoux (1st), Tour du Lac Léman (1st) or the Hardrock (12th). I am currently ranked 7th on the French challenge of trails over 100 km, the Ultra Mountain National Tour.
ML: Can you tell us about the history of the Children & Future association?
PV: The week of November 20 to 28, 1999 was the launch of No Finish Line, by the Junior Chamber of Economy of Monaco, to celebrate and promote the Universal Children’s Day and to raise public awareness of the Rights of the Child.
The creation of the association came later, in March 2001, and so a humanitarian association, No Finish Line, was born. Its sole aim is to promote the protection and respect of children’s rights throughout the world and in Monaco, and to finance projects that improve their condition, education, health and lifestyle.
ML: So how is Children & Future structured?
PV: Children & Future is, above all, a team that shows solidarity and is active throughout the year. The office is made up of five people: Ariane (President), Hélène (Vice-President), Stéphane (Vice-President), Sylvia (Secretary General) and Genevieve (Treasurer).
The other members are divided into different centres. There’s logistics, which tends to the design of the circuit, course safety, refuelling stations, the computer system and timing chips, technical files for administrative entities, setting up infrastructures, and realisation of logistics schedules.
Then registration puts together online newsletters for the runners over 8 days, 24 hours a day, designs the registration flyer, creates BIBs, runs registration management and provides information to the teams.
The communication department works on website animation, social networks, press-book production, activity reports, press releases and press relations, creates posters and all media, and deals with circuit signage.
The organisation and management of musical and various events on the circuit, sound and the awards ceremony is the responsibility of our animations department.
The project centre determines rules and conditions for projects, study and selection of projects to be financed and their monitoring while the sponsorship department looks for financial partners and arranges their visibility on the circuit.
Finally, there’s the administrative and accounting follow-up.
ML: Could you give us some facts and figures about the association?
PV: The concept of No Finish Line is very simple: just come running or walking on a circuit closed to traffic and open 24 hours a day for 8 days.
Participants can come on the circuit if they wish, 8 consecutive days, several times a day, at night, entre chien et loup (twilight) … whenever.
The uniqueness is that this event is truly open to everyone and you decide when you want to participate. Plus, you can come by yourself or with your family, a pet, in a team, in a competition, with your school …
Entertainment is planned throughout the week to give NFL a touch of cheerfulness for its participants: musical bands, Zumba, yoga, tai chi, pancake party, popcorn, dancers.
As for figures, in 2013, at Quai Antoine 1er, we had 10,469 people register, 271,251 kms were completed and we raised €299,692. The following edition numbers surged to 12,524 participants raising €393,671 with 71,072 more kilometres than 2013.
In 2015, 13,459 people moved to Fontvieille Chapiteau and the Rose Garden and we raised €383,109 (€1 per km) while for this year’s new route, 13,297 people signed up and €392,516 was raised.
ML: The funds go to which projects for children?
PV: There are several projects. First, the Cardio-Thoracic Centre Monaco (CCM) (€112,499). Since 2004, we have been working closely with the CCM to mobilise its teams to save children with severe heart defects.
Since its creation, the CCM has taken care of children in the framework of humanitarian actions by providing them with medical skills and technical platforms.
The children who receive operations benefit from the most recent and least aggressive protocols possible (interventions without surgical opening, opening of narrowed valves, etc.).
Cardiac diagnosis, urgent medical procedures and paediatric resuscitation are provided by the Centre’s permanent team, while the most complex cases are given to international specialists.
Beyond the surgical and medical acts, the whole team warmly embrace the children who are far away from their family environment.
These projects can be created through the cooperation of several associations:
Aviation sans frontières, which is in charge of the African Rencontres, the Chaîne de l’espoir and the Monegasque Red Cross, which carry out the necessary administrative formalities to receive children and allow them to be welcomed into host families throughout their stay.
The Directorate of National Education for Youth and Sports (€ 37,013). Children & Future contributes to the implementation of numerous educational and pedagogical projects in the Principality concerning children with severe school difficulties or with disabilities.
Children & Future finances the purchase of tablets, specific software or other necessary materials, as identified and listed by relevant professionals, which will be used, as needed, by kindergarten, primary, secondary or specialised classes.
Moana diving club (€16,300). Children & Future supports the Moana diving club in Cagnes-sur-mer. Diving equipment adapted to disabled youth has been funded, including wetsuits and facial masks. We are also involved in the purchase of a 9-seat adapted transport vehicle to facilitate the transportation of children with disabilities.
Street children of Madagascar (€30,000). We support jointly with the Directorate of International Cooperation of Monaco and the Apprentis Auteuil Foundation the economic and social reintegration of children and young people in the streets of Antananarivo.
The Malagasy capital has 3000 to 4000 children living on the streets, who suffer from food deficiency, health problems, hygiene, lack of education, protection and access to information.
This long-term development program, in conjunction with local associations, improves their living conditions and contributes to making them a key player in their future. It provides housing, and educates and trains about 900 children per year.
Maison de vie Carpentras (€7500). Since the opening of this maison de vie in June 2010 by HSH Princess Stephanie (the sponsor of our association), we participate in the running of the home for single people or families with HIV. It is a safe and resourceful environment, a place of listening, exchanges and sharing that allows those carrying the HIV virus to regain confidence in themselves and the future.
Construction of school in Bamougoum, Cameroon (€45,000). We are funding the construction of an elementary school through the Walking for Kids Association.
We’ll be responsible for the entire construction of the building, which will consist of three classes. The purpose of this school is to educate and accommodate all children in the surrounding villages, including children with minor disabilities.
Academy of Dance Monaco (€15,000). We give a scholarship to a young Brazilian student to provide an opportunity to fulfill the dream of becoming a lead dancer one day. This scholarship supports training at the Monte Carlo ballet dance academy.
Construction and development of a multi-sports ground for halfway-house in Trinité, Nice (€75,000). Children and teens on social assistance, as well as the children of the Foundation’s institutions, will be able to benefit. There’ll be a variety of physical activities (football, handball, basketball, tennis, badminton …) for children and young people out of school and/or families.
Playing sports will promote diversity, combat disparities and inequalities for girls but also contribute to the socialisation of not-in-school youth with others their age.
It will be a way to develop self-esteem, self-confidence and respect for others, respect for rules and tolerance, and a healthy lifestyle. An educational program will be set up and a schedule of activities will be developed in association with young people.
In addition, animations will be organised according to the sporting events (Rolland Garros, world football …)
Educational project FANB Monaco, construction of a water machine (€5,040). This educational project aims to make students work on concrete humanitarian projects.
Students will make a machine during school hours to purify contaminated water. Several subjects taught during the year in the college will be incorporated in this project: technology, geography …
The water station will be sent to a school in Burundi through Amade Mondiale, and will allow schoolchildren to have access to safe, non-chlorinated drinking water. This station will even be able to provide drinking water to the inhabitants in the area at competitive costs, resulting in a positive health impact.
Construction of a catheterisation room, Bamako Mali (€30,000). In partnership with the DCI and Share, a catheterisation room will be built within the mother-child hospital in Luxembourg.
In order for this centre to become autonomous, as was the case a few years ago when we co-financed the sterilisation and catheterisation room in Nouakchott, Share will be responsible for the training of cardiologists and the nursing staff in Mali and Monaco.
ML: What are the main fundraising events of the association?
PV: The JCI (Young International Chamber) in 1995 decided that promotion of the rights of the child was an international project. One of the goals was to promote a Universal Day of the Rights of the Child (JUDE) every November 20. This entails submitting a motion to the UN, with a minimum of 20 signatures from member states being mandatory. HSH Prince Albert offered to ask for 100 signatures. At the end of 4 years, only 23 member states supported this motion. For political and diplomatic reasons, this project has been, for the moment, set aside.
The JCEM (Junior Chamber of Economy of Monaco) in 1998 decided to support the JCI action by organising demonstrations around November 20, The Monegasque Day of the Rights of the Child was instituted the following year.
I launched an idea in August 1998: to run (or walk) 24 hours a day on a circuit in the Principality over several days to promote the protection of children’s rights and to raise funds. A team of 6 people at JCEM set to work with Karine Morel and Philippe Verdier. During 9 days and 8 nights, 750 participants raised 100,000 francs, which was distributed to five local and international associations.
The No Finish Line is also a dance contest, “NFL Danse”. Organised with FAME and MAD, the spirit of this event is the same as the race: get dance schools involved with young dancers of all levels for a shared activity. Children and teens who love to dance help improve the lives of other less fortunate children. It is a genuine sense of solidarity. At the end of this competition one or two trophies for each level (beginner, intermediate, advanced) are awarded by a jury.
The participation of the many schools makes the event a success and all the benefits are donated to Children & Future.
ML: Could you talk about plans for No Finish Line in the future?
PV: Our dream is to see 52 NFL, one a week, in different countries, so that the NFL is continued throughout the year in the world, and therefore becomes concretely a true “no finish line”.
This is why the NFL international association was created on July 1, 2014.
After filing the NFL name and concept, NFL International could then grant a temporary license to foreign organisers who are keen to support the event and help finance even more projects for children.
Each NFL project sponsor will have to apply the “1 currency/1 km travelled” policy and support programs for children in their country. Then, after a few years, each international NFL will return part of the funds raised to the NFL international association to finance a joint world project, chosen by all the organisers.
We did Paris in 2015 and 2016, Oslo in 2016 and soon Athens in 2017, these are the first cities to organise a No Finish Line.
Other projects are in progress, notably in Brussels, Mauritius, Rio or Sao Paulo …
ML: How does membership work?
PV: Membership is €20/year, a token gesture! Each new entrant will be sponsored by a member, who will follow the new volunteer to explain the function, role and purpose of the association, and to answer any questions. Also, people can make a donation without becoming a member.
ML: Are you always in need of volunteers?
PV: We always need volunteers, in general they are people who come to see us on the circuit and begin to give a little help with refuelling stations, for example. Then the volunteers sometimes want to commit to more time by coming to support us across the year.
For more, see Children & Future’s website.
Article first published December 9, 2016.