Running the extra mile with the World Airline Road Race

On Sept. 24, 2023, the World Airline Road Race (WARR) held its 40th annual race and fundraising event in Calgary, Alberta. This event wasn’t just a competition; it was a beacon of hope and generosity, culminating in a fundraising effort, and LiveDifferent is honoured to be the chosen charity partner for this year’s race.

Beyond the finish line: A fundraising feat

Participants raised an incredible $14,233! These funds were designated for a special project: a Build in Mexico with our Academy student cohort.

Chair of World Airline Road Race, Jennifer Zimmer says, “After experiencing a LiveDifferent Build firsthand this year, I knew this organization was the perfect charity for World Airline Road Race’s yearly donation to a worthy cause. It is important to our membership, made up of airline employees from all over the world, to give back each year to those in need.”

A unique challenge, an unforgettable journey

The family selected for this Build was Olivia and her children, who had been living in a cramped, mouldy concrete block home with a leaky roof. The living conditions caused her children to frequently miss school due to respiratory illness.

In this scenario, the need for a safe, healthy and stable living environment was not just a matter of comfort, but a necessity. This Build was about providing a space where the children could grow, learn and thrive without the burden of illness and the constant anxiety of a deteriorating home.

A new home, a new beginning

Thanks to the generosity of the WARR participants and the hard work of our Academy students and staff, we were able to construct a new home alongside Olivia’s family. This home is not just a structure of bricks and mortar; it is a foundation for a healthier, brighter future.

The Build has been a testament to the power of community, generosity and hard work. Our Academy students have not only made a significant impact on a family’s life but also set an inspiring example for other young people to get involved. They have shown that with compassion and determination, we can make a world of difference.

“The group of rockstars at LiveDifferent make such a positive impact on people’s lives and we wanted to help them make this happen for another family. We are so honoured to support this Build and wish to thank the young volunteers who travelled to Mexico to help build this home and work within the local community,” Zimmer adds.

A heartfelt thank you

We extend our deepest gratitude to the World Airline Road Race organizers, participants, and everyone who contributed to this cause. Your support has not only changed the lives of Olivia and her family but has also reinforced our belief in the power of community and compassion.

Learn more

Interested in getting involved with LiveDifferent’s Builds Program? Check out our upcoming public Builds trips or organize your own private group Build.

About WARR

The World Airline Road Race (WARR) is an annual event held in September/October, attracting over 1,000 participants from 40+ airlines. Now in its 41st year, it’s one of the largest airline athletic events globally. Hosted by a different airline each year, in partnership with the International WARR Committee, it promotes team-building and company pride through a series of activities. Highlights include a meet-and-greet, a T-shirt swap party, and the main events – the 5K and 10K walk-and-run. The event concludes with an awards dinner and dance, offering networking opportunities with airline professionals worldwide. Visit to learn more.

Author: LiveDifferent

Date: November 14th, 2023

A Lesson in Empathy

Empathy is feeling with people and making a connection with them. It’s a vulnerable choice you have to make and our entire ‘Week in the Life’ experience was a lesson in empathy. The lesson began on the first day when we built our houses of cardboard, plastic, scrap wood, and drywall that we found at the local dump. As a new ‘family’ we had to make many of our first decisions together, which had its challenges. I still cannot believe that we lived in a house made of things from the dump for an entire week.

We all slept in one bed, made of cardboard, with only one pillow and one blanket each. With being on the dirt floor, we quickly discovered that we were sharing our bed with all the bugs as well. Waking up on our first morning, we saw bug bites covering each other’s faces.  I had never realized how much of a reality this would be for some many people. The day started with trying to make a fire at 4am so we could cook our breakfast and our lunch for the day. Once our fire was started, we managed to make ourselves some instant coffee and warm our leftover beans and rice. The sun was only starting to rise as we ate our breakfast and cleaned up.  We then had a twenty-minute walk to a gas station to be picked up for work.

One of our jobs was to pull weeds in a raspberry field. The work hurt our backs as we bent over and pulled weed after weed from the ground. For a days work, we were paid 200 pesos ($13 Canadian) but the locals we were working beside were paid 150 pesos ($10 Canadian) for the day.  This difference in wage seemed unfair because they were more productive and more experienced. On top of being paid more, we were also provided with unlimited, free drinking water at the work site and also got time off for lunch breaks.

(Editors Note: The students were paid 200 pesos daily, as a family, for their work.   Using this income they needed to pay for their food, water, property rent, and other costs throughout the week.  This payment came from LiveDifferent, and not from the employers they were working for.  200 pesos is an average for the jobs they worked at which means sometimes they made more then the people they worked beside, and sometimes less.)

When we got dropped off back at the gas station, we saw all the other field workers being dropped off as well. This made me realize that this is their life forever, unlike our one-week experience that would eventually end. We went alongside them to the grocery store to get our meal for the night. We made dinner quickly so we could go to bed early as we were tired after our day of work, being up at 4am, and walking to work and back. Not only were we physically tired, but also mentally and emotionally as there was so much to think about, from the budgeting of our money to the conserving of water.

After finishing our week-long lesson on empathy, I’ve learned what a harsh reality life can be for a lot of people in Mexico. With low wages, improper access to housing, food, education or water, life can be difficult from the moment you wake up in the morning, until you go to bed at night, and even sleeping. I found the entire experience to be frustrating and enlightening. I was frustrated for all the people who deserve a better life and enlightened to better understand their perspective on life.  With empathy being about connection, I now feel more connected to all those who I’ve meet volunteering here in Mexico.  This experience has changed me to have a better understanding of what empathy really is and why empathy is important for better understanding of each other and the story behind each person.

Emily – Current 2016 Academy Student

Author: LiveDifferent

Date: December 4th, 2016

Building a Future

After our build prep week we were filled with excitement and joy to continue with the process of building Eleidy, Guillermo and their two kids, Elizabeth and Guillermo, a home. This week wasn’t just about building a home it was about building a future and an opportunity for success.

Typically, when LiveDifferent staff go through the selection process of finding a family to build a home for, they go though a series of interviews and ask around the community, about who in the community is most in need. In the case of Guillermo and Eleidy it is a little different. In this case a local cement company here in the San Quintin valley came to LiveDifferent and proposed an idea that if they donated all the cement and blocks for the house, LiveDifferent could build a house for one of the workers in need, and that’s just what we did. The cement company asked their staff who was the worker that was most in need/deserving of the home. With guidance from LiveDifferent, the workers came up with Guillermo and his family.

The night before build week we sat down with the family at the build site, ate pizza, and shared stories and parts of our lives at home. We all introduced ourselves, shared our age, where we were from, how we paid for the trip and also talked a bit about our families. Guillermo and Eleidy shared their life stories and how they met which was very inspiring for me just to hear. The also shared the struggles they’ve been through and how they have managed to get through it while raising two children at the same time.

Build week started at full throttle, within minutes of getting to the build site people started laying brick, and mixing cement while Jordan, Stephanie and I were working away on digging a 8ft hole for the baño (outhouse). This just so happens to be our favorite pastime so if anyone in Canada needs one done, we got you covered. As we started to eat lunch at the work site the wind decided it was the perfect time to pick up, so there was dust and dirt flying everywhere and so we got the privilege of eating half of Mexico along with our lunch. Thankfully, on the following days, a local church opened its doors to us for us to eat inside. The week continued with us laying brick, finishing the hole, and then once all of the framework was done we began painting the exterior walls and building the roof. This is where it got real for me. Like, wow… we were building a house! All of the building was so new to me since I have never been on a build trip before let alone done copious amounts of manual labour. I am practically the laziest person on planet earth and my bed is my best friend, but I have learned to do so much and feel like I have even grown personally in this experience.

As Friday approached, we were finishing up interior work like electrical, walls, putting in windows, putting up the fence, getting plants… and then painting and dry walling the ceilings. Overall this week was such a wonderful experience being able to work alongside the family to help build their home. By giving them this new space there is hope for a better future where they do not need to worry about having a roof over their head, but have a spot for their kids to thrive and for the family to continue to contribute to the community.

Author: LiveDifferent

Date: November 25th, 2016

Building Together

The prep week was filled with hard work in preparation for our build-week. We helped to pour the cement pad and we also built the walls of the house up to the windows. It was a very humbling experience to be able to construct the house alongside the family we are building for. They were so eager to help and it was easy to tell that they were extremely excited and grateful for this house. This house is the first one LiveDifferent is building in Mexico that is built out of cement blocks. The houses LiveDifferent builds in Mexico are typically built out of wood but LiveDifferent has teamed up with a local cement company here to help to provide one of their workers with a house. The father of the family we’re building for is employed with this company so it’s pretty neat to see a community coming together to provide an honest, hardworking family with a home.

Building alongside and interacting with the family has been fun as well. They have 2 kids named Guillermo and Elizabeth. They are really cute and are always trying to help as much as they can. Whenever one of us needed a break from working we usually would go and colour with Elizabeth which was also really cool because its something that you can do with someone without having a language in common. Although most of our week was spent building the house, we still got the opportunity to go teach English and art classes at the Chula Vista Community center. I have been a part of teaching the English classes for the past 4 weeks and it is an awesome experience especially since I want to go to school to become a teacher. The children we teach are so excited to learn and are almost always engaged in what we are teaching them. Some days are better than others in terms of their attention spans but overall it is great. The reason why I really like the English classes is because it makes me feel like I’m actually making a difference; the kids are leaving afterwards hopefully knowing at least a bit more English and that’s super cool. I love the idea that I had a part in furthering their English as a second language while I am also learning Spanish from them.

Jadyn – Current 2016 Academy Student


Author: LiveDifferent

Date: November 11th, 2016

Mi Casa es Su Casa

This week began with meeting our host families. I think it’s safe to say that we were all a little bit nervous and a little bit excited at the same time. The nervousness stemmed from the thought of engaging with strangers for an entire evening once a week, and only speaking Spanish. The excitement came from a place of curiosity and passion. What would it be like to cook dinners with our family and learn their traditions? How would we get to know each family member through our limited Spanish and their limited English? Would we feel out of place or right at home?

I arrived at my host family’s house with all of these questions still on my mind. We pulled up to the house and as my partner, Claire, and I stumbled out of the LiveDifferent van we were greeted by five smiling faces all running to give us welcoming hugs. Irma, the oldest of the five children, is twelve. Flor and Anna Jessica look like twins but they are nine and seven years old. Damien is four and, like most four year-olds, is full of non-stop energy. Mikey is the youngest and is only two. At first he is shy but eventually is just as energetic as his brother. Before visiting our host home we were told that the children’s mother had began a new job and would not be able to join us on Monday evenings. She works most of the week and while she is away Irma takes care of her younger sisters and brothers. Although this was not the “traditional” family we were expecting, the reality is that this is a very normal family in Mexico. It happens often that the parent/s must work and the kids wait at home.

The van pulled away after dropping us off, and we were on our own. The kids pulled us inside and Irma began by giving us a tour of their house. They have a kitchen/dining room with a propane stove and a small wood table, two small rooms with bunk beds (one for the girls and one for the boys), and their mother’s room. We sat down at the table and the girls all pulled out their English books to show us what they were learning in school. They were so excited to practice their English with native English speakers and we were astonished by how much they knew. Mikey was hiding behind them throughout this time and every time we spoke to him he would shrink a little further behind his sister’s back. Eventually, we coaxed him out and before we knew it he was running around the house screaming in delight and grabbing hold of our hands to come play. We did not cook supper with our family that night. Instead, their mom had prepared pasta for everyone before leaving for work. We discovered this when Damien climbed up on a chair, scooped out some noodles into a bowl, and declared them ready for us to eat. He served Claire and I, along with all of his siblings and sat down last to eat.

One of the biggest impacts I took away from this first evening was the lack of electricity in their home. I had never realized how much I took light for granted until I was attempting to do small tasks in the dark. Simple chores like washing the dishes became more difficult as we stood outside in the cold, unable to see. Irma lit a candle inside and this was the kids’ only source of light to do their homework, read their books, and colour. It was an instinct for me to turn on my phone’s flashlight as soon as these tasks became even remotely hard. I held up the light as we finished the dishes, shone it on the story books I was reading aloud, and propped it up in front of my supper so I could see while I was eating. In my mind light is something I consider a necessity and I didn’t think twice about using my flashlight. However, I realized that the kids don’t have any devices with flashlights and navigating in the dim light of the candle is just a normality in their life.

Conversation filled the night. Not necessarily words of the same language but facial expressions, gestures, and games. In a way, this form of communication was far more effective than words could ever be. I was able to practice my Spanish by telling Irma about myself and my family. Claire and I are still laughing at the surprise on Irma’s face when I accidentally told her I am twenty-eight years old instead of eighteen. Claire coloured with the younger ones as Irma and I pulled out two cups and sang the Spanish and English version of the cup song. My worries of feeling out of place vanished as we bonded with these kids.

I am excited for the many weeks to come in which we will be able to hang out more with our host family and continue to develop this amazing bond.
Aeriel – Current 2016 Academy Student


Author: LiveDifferent

Date: November 4th, 2016

The Adventure Begins!

Just over one month ago, eleven strangers met in San Diego. Within a few days those strangers became friends (practically family by this point) and drove down to Mexico together. And that is where the adventure began.

We all chose to spend three months of our lives in Mexico for slightly different reasons, but in the end there’s a small piece in each of us that is the same. We were drawn by the same call: three months of intensive learning, growth, exciting discovery, and an opportunity to do what we could to empower others and bring change. The past month has been a whirlwind of everything listed above.


Lesson one: peanut butter can be added to hot chocolate (and pretty much anything else) and it tastes divine. Lesson two: twenty potatoes makes a lot of gnocchi. Maybe ten would have sufficed? Lesson three: H₂O is not on the periodic table. Lesson four: vegan whip cream can be made out of chickpea juice.

Apart from that, we now know the Spanish alphabet, can count to one million, and are able to introduce ourselves and conjugate verbs, all in Spanish. In social justice class we’ve covered topics from the structure of an NGO to statelessness to human trafficking. We know how to use the local bus system and where the best markets are. We’ve come to develop a small but ever-growing knowledge of Mexican culture and a few of us have even learned that doughnuts are seven pesos, not seven dollars. (We all agreed that seven dollars was a little excessive..)


I think I can speak for all of us when I say there’s been amazing days and not so amazing days. Sharing a living space with ten other people takes a little while to get used to! Remembering to put your toilet paper in the waste basket instead of flushing also takes a while to get used to. New food takes a while to get used to. Sleeping through car horns, loud music, fighting dogs, and the next door neighbour’s rooster takes a while to get used to. Being an academy student has taken a while to get used to. But the harder moments eventually phase into brighter ones and everything we’ve seen and learned and experienced has helped us to grow into the people we are now – slightly better versions of ourselves than we were a month ago.


We have spent the past month discovering that our ‘normal’ at home is really pretty abnormal for the rest of the world. Not everyone has safe drinking water flowing from their tap. Not everyone has electricity or paved roads or a secure job or medical care. The truth is that there are children who can’t get an education because they don’t have a birth certificate. The truth is that there are elderly people living and dying on the streets. The truth is that many parents work for hours every day and still have to make choices that we’ve never even dreamed of having to make – do I pay for the medical attention my child needs or do I fix the roof that leaks dirty water on my family every night? Should I pay for child care so that I can go to work knowing that my daughters are safe, or should I save that money to buy enough food for dinner tonight?

Despite some of the disheartening things we’ve discovered, we’ve also been given the incredible opportunity to put our time and energy towards empowering others and bringing change. We are helping to build a Trade Center which will employ teachers to train local people in skilled trades, giving them an opportunity to find better and safer jobs. We’re volunteering at two abuelo (Grandparent) homes that take in elderly people, ensuring they are well fed and cared for. We are teaching English and art to local children at a community center, giving them a safe space to learn and create. We are working with organizations that make sure kids are fed and washed before going to school, organizations that offer homework help, and organizations that provide a healthy environment where women recovering from abuse can find healing. We are working with those around us to initiate growth in the community.

September flew by in the blink of an eye but we still have two amazing months ahead of us. There is still so much to learn from one another, from our teachers and our neighbours. The world is at our finger tips and we’ve only just begun to explore.
Claire – Current 2016 Academy Student 

Author: LiveDifferent

Date: October 25th, 2016

From the Ground Up

This week was our build week. Instead of a house build like LiveDifferent normally does, we decided to switch things up a bit and work on a schoolhouse project. This Build was very different compared to my other LiveDifferent Build experience. The school was built out of wood entirely and had two classrooms inside the one building. During the last day of our “Week in the Life” experience we had spread the dirt that the concrete pad was poured on. The concrete pad was spread and dried during the few weeks between Week in the Life and our build week. When we got to the site to actually start our build, there was just a pad on top of a pile of dirt.

As the days went by, our Build slowly took shape. I had the most fun working on the roof, from snaking through the support beams to slathering on tar for the shingles. From on top of the roof I could see all the way out to the ocean and also could see the next town, Camalu. I could see the entire build site and watch everyone do their jobs. The part that I didn’t enjoy was painting. It was especially difficult because the wind kept blowing sand and dirt onto the walls we were trying to paint. But, in the end, it was all worth it because the school looks beautiful with its gray walls and white trim. During the week, we ran into some travelers from Tennessee and some circumstances led them to helping us for a day or two. It was so cool to meet these people and have them help with building the school.

This was a pretty important Build, not just to me, but important to all the families and students who live in the surrounding area. The school that the students were using was four garage doors and a tarp as the roof. There was no flooring so the classroom floor was just bare dirt. When we got towards the end of our build, the students took down their old classroom, and seeing their faces of glee and excitement taking it down was indescribable. The build was a fantastic experience and it is such an amazing feeling to see the school all set up and see it wiz past as we drive down the highway.

-George (Jorge), Academy Student 2015

Author: LiveDifferent

Date: December 4th, 2015

Desert Adventures

For the last two and half months we have adventured to many different places that are reflective of the Mexican culture. A few of my favourites were a volcano hike, Lucha Libre, Globos market, and the Baja 1000 off-road race. All of these excursions were terrific outings where we met many kind people and experienced Mexican culture. The volcano hike was an interesting and smart way to view a new part of Mexico. We traveled to a lovely beach and, from there, hiked an hour up a beautiful volcano. The volcano has not been active for many, many years. Hiking up was a leg killer because it was all up hill, but reaching the top made it all worth it. The views were spectacular and breathtaking. There is something so mindful and peaceful about being on the top of a mountain and soaking in the beauty that Mexico has.

Lucha Libre is a form of entertainment wrestling widely enjoyed throughout Mexico. Mexican wrestling is characterized by colourful masks. The wearing of masks has developed special significance and matches are sometimes challenged where the loser must permanently remove his mask, which is a done with a high degree of weight attached. I am aware that this type of entertainment is a huge part of the Mexican tradition, which we haven’t seen a lot of.  The wresting event that we watched was held at Globos, a market that is held every weekend in a nearby town, San Quintin. Many items are sold at the market including clothing, food, and toys. The owners of the market were celebrating their 10 year anniversary in business and to celebrate they hosted a Lucha Libre event.  Many people gathered for this experience because it is a very popular tradition in Mexico.

The Baja 1000 is an off-road desert race that takes place on Mexico’s Baja California Peninsula the third week of November every year. It draws in thousands of spectators, sponsors and media. We were able to participate in the Baja 1000 festivities by travelling to Ensenada for the pre-race fan fair and spending the next day watching the race on the track near our home. The Baja 1000 allows various types of vehicles to compete on the same course, from dirt bikes, atv’s, dune buggies, trucks, and custom fabricated race vehicles. The name of the event can be misleading as the mileage varies each year because the track changes, but essentially it is about 1300-1500km’s! You can imagine how long it must take! The racers who are able to complete the race usually finish in an average of 18-22 hrs.

All of these outings have been so much fun and have made the LDA experience so much more enhanced by participating locally with Mexican culture. With only three weeks left, I hope to attend more fun filled excursions in order to soak up more culture and knowledge about Mexico.

– Grace, Academy Student 2015

Author: LiveDifferent

Date: November 27th, 2015

No Hombres? No Problem

This week I attended our different volunteer positions and visited my host family one evening. I really enjoy going to Buen Samaritano, because I like the work I get the opportunity to do there. I enjoy the reactions I get when I ask for the “man’s” job.  Another female student, Danica, and I showed up one day, ready to mix concrete to set up some posts for a clothes line.  We received a confused look and a ‘No hombres?’ (No men?) from the women in charge.  “No, muy fuerte!” we assured her as we flexed our arms jokingly.  She then led us to the lines and we worked for three hours mixing and laying concrete into meter deep holes. We finished 3 out of the 7 holes.  Many people here have such a strong idea of what women and men’s roles are.  In Canada, I have worked as a carpenter, a landscaper, and a construction worker, all of which are traditionally deemed jobs for men. A number of times I have gotten weird reactions, but I like to prove that women are just as capable of doing labour work as men are.


Mareena is another reason I like working at Buen Samaritano.  She works there and it feels awesome to be able to connect with someone from the area.  She speaks enough English that we can have conversations and she helps me with my Spanish.  Mareena likes it when we tell her about Canada. Her questions are filled with wonder as we tell her about the weather and how different it is from Mexico.  Getting to know her has definitely made this volunteering experience better.

I have never been the socialite but I have really enjoy being with my host family. We visit them one evening a week, in order learn more about Mexican culture, practice our Spanish, and get to know other people in the community. I love preparing dinner together, joking around, and laughing about our miscommunications. Dinner is great and the food is amazing, so I always compliment Hilda on her cooking. She is so funny; she will point to my stomach and say “nada!” (nothing) and then grab her own and say “manteca!” (fat) – she thinks I’m too skinny.  We laugh about this exchange because it happens every time.

LiveDifferent’s motto is, “Life is about people”, and I’m beginning to see what this really means by taking in people’s stories and getting to know their personalities. It’s such a powerful feeling to really get to be a part of a person’s life, and to impact them in a way that you could not have if you hadn’t taken the time to build these relationships.  Sharing moments and memories with others is something I’ve learned is so important. Life really is about that special connection you share with everyone who enters and exits your life.

– Alexandria, LiveDifferent Academy Student 2015

Author: LiveDifferent

Date: November 16th, 2015

Time – An Undervalued Luxury

This week was very challenging, but also very rewarding. I was able to learn so much about poverty and about those experiencing poverty that I’ve never thought about before. One of the hardest things I learned this week is how little free time people have to spend with family and friends. There is always something to do. What do you do after you are done work for the day?  Typically, one would go home, make dinner, do a couple chores, and then relax until bedtime. What if simple things like cooking becomes a chore or a challenge?  The reality for some people is that they have to continue working hard as soon as they get home. They need to cook, some over an open fire, to make repairs to their homes, do yard work, laundry, and so much more. It’s crazy to think that after people work a 9 hour day in the sun in the fields, or rock picking, they have to come home and do more hard work. Back home, when I finish a day of work I come home and watch TV or sit and hangout with my family. Understanding this is also a reality for many working people back in Canada too, it made me realize just how lucky we are to have some of the luxuries at home that make those daily chores less stressful and time consuming.

No task is simple when living in these conditions. For example cooking is much simpler when we have a stove, countertop, and numerous cooking utensils at our reach, but for many people, and for us this past week, we were cooking over an open fire. It is hard to imagine that food can be an uncertainty in people’s lives. If it is raining, then the fire won’t start, which means you’re unable to make dinner for your family. Living in this uncertainty this week was a new concept for me. It made it very stressful and made me anxious every time we were about to cook. Throughout the week our timing with cooking food improved, as we always tried to get most of the cooking done before dark. It is amazing how much you can’t do once it starts to get dark. Again, it is a totally new concept as I have always lived with electricity.

This week has taught me so many things and I am beyond thankful to have gotten to experience it all. One of the largest lessons I learned is to never underestimate one person’s ability and strength. Working alongside locals this week and getting a taste of what their everyday lives showed me how strong people can be. While we were working alongside them we needed to take breaks, to drink water, and give our bodies a chance to stretch, but they do not take these breaks and continue working for long periods of time. They know what they need to do to provide for their families and they are willing to do it. One of my favourite moments this week was when we were rock picking on Friday. After we worked for about 5 hours in the sun, we were done picking but now needed to bring up all the bags of rocks. At this point the workers became less serious about getting as many rocks as they could and starting joking around with each other and talking more with us. It was nice to see that even after a long workday they were able to joke with each other and try to make their days more enjoyable.

I have found a greater respect for those experiencing poverty, especially those we were able to work alongside.  I am very grateful we had this opportunity to try and understand some of the daily challenges they face. We learned so much this week about our group, poverty, and ourselves in general.

– Danica, LiveDifferent Academy Student 2015

Author: LiveDifferent