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

Why every parent should consider a LiveDifferent Build for their kid

If you’re a parent considering sending your child on a humanitarian build, it’s likely you have a few questions.

We understand that sending your kids off to a distant country and entrusting them with the responsibility of helping build homes alongside people facing hardships can be both exciting and nerve-wracking.

Rest assured, safety and security are LiveDifferent’s top priorities, and we make sure that each volunteer is well cared for from start to finish.
But beyond safety concerns, there’s something truly special about participating in a Build with LiveDifferent.

A Build reinforces all of the important lessons you’ve taught your kids growing up. It’s an incredible opportunity for your child to gain valuable insight into their world, make life-long friends, discover their capabilities and understand the immense power they have to make a difference.

Can you trust LiveDifferent with your kid?

We at LiveDifferent have been running humanitarian travel projects since 2005, and have had over 5,000 participants with no serious incidents.

We have carefully planned our programs and routes to ensure a safe and culturally enriching experience. We recognize there are always safety measures and risks when travelling to any developing country, and with this in mind, we pay close attention to what is going on in local communities and along the routes we travel.

“Any parents that are considering this, I would just say put your trust in the LiveDifferent crew,” says Lucy Gibson, a parent who recently joined a LiveDifferent Build as a chaperone for her daughter’s school. “They really watch out for the kids – safety is first and foremost – and it’s just really, really well organized. … It feels safe with the LiveDifferent group.“

We maintain excellent community relations and work diligently alongside community leaders, other NGOs working in the area, and often government officials in each country that we work in. All of our staff are first aid certified, well-versed in safety protocols and we always have access available to quality medical attention if needed.

And if any safety concerns come to our attention before or during the program, we communicate this immediately to registered volunteers and their parents or guardians.

“Right from the get-go, there was a lot of information,” says Lucy. “You know, part of the LiveDifferent crew actually lives here, knows the communities, and that’s part of the culture that they try and bring; that culture of trust within the communities.”

How does a LiveDifferent Build benefit your kid?

Aside from maintaining strict safety standards, there are many reasons why sending your child on a Build can be beneficial for their growth and development.

LiveDifferent focuses on shaping the future of each of our volunteers in a profound way while unleashing their potential to make a difference. A Build gives them the opportunity to explore new interests, create valuable experiences, gain independence and work towards a meaningful career. It also teaches important life skills such as problem-solving, effective communication and the importance of teamwork.

Our volunteers also learn about social justice issues from local experts, providing them with an understanding of why their work is so essential in helping communities break out of poverty cycles. We believe that everyone has a responsibility to help those in need and stand up for those who cannot stand up for themselves, and we are proud to provide our volunteers with this opportunity.

“I thought it would be a great experience to have with [my daughter] before she goes off to university,” says Lucy. “And also to create awareness within herself to know how privileged we are just to be born in Canada and have what we have, and just give a glimpse of what’s out there in the world and how we can help.”

What’s more, our Builds are incredibly fun! Participants can expect to take part in awesome activities during their free time such as cooking local food, beach days, zip-lining adventures and much more.

“Every day is a new day,” says Lucy. “The itinerary that LiveDifferent puts together is, you know, that of a great balance of work and play. There’s a lot of play on the worksite, but then the kids get to go back and play some football in the pool, play cards, have a movie night; so there’s a great balance.”

What are you waiting for?

At LiveDifferent, we provide a safe and valuable learning experience for your child, while giving you the ability to stay connected throughout. Most of all, we will strive to help your child make the world a better place and change their lives forever.
But don’t just take our word for it …

We would love to have LiveDifferent be a part of your family’s journey! If you have any questions about our Builds or safety procedures, please don’t hesitate to contact us or visit our Builds page to learn more.

And if you’d like to join your child on a Build, the more the merrier! We love having families join us in making a difference, and know that the experience will be equally enriching for everyone involved.

Author: Gina Alward

Date: June 8th, 2023

WestJet and LiveDifferent: Going (beyond) the distance to make a difference

Since 2008, WestJet has been taking us to new heights, powering our program delivery, business travel and fundraising efforts with the gift of flight.

And in 2012, we decided to take our relationship to the next level.

Wanting to make a difference in one of WestJet’s most popular Caribbean destinations, we established the inaugural WestJet LiveDifferent Build, their first international Community Investment initiative.

2022 marked our 10th anniversary!

To date, more than 500 WestJetters have worked alongside local translators, contractors, and community and family members to build 53 homes with families living in extreme poverty in Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic.

But it hasn’t stopped there.

Beyond building

At LiveDifferent, we are amazed and inspired by the incredible passion and commitment of our volunteers who consistently go above and beyond to make a difference.

When LiveDifferent volunteers exceed their fundraising goal for a Build, that money goes back into community projects through LiveDifferent’s Emergency Relief and Community Development Fund. This fund supports local needs and helps enhance the quality of life for people living in Mexico and the Dominican Republic.

But with WestJet, things are done a bit differently.

In addition to their personal fundraising goal, WestJet challenges its WestJetters to fundraise over and above to support a community project. WestJet sets out the goal that they will match WestJetters over-fundraising efforts up to $5,000. Pooling and matching the funds allows us to plan for more impactful community projects that WestJetters can be a part of during their annual Build. This ensures they can see first-hand the tangible results of their efforts.

Any additional funds raised that are not allocated to these projects will then go to LiveDifferent’s Emergency Relief and Community Development Fund.

“When we issue the over-fundraising challenge to WestJetters, it’s amazing to see how they go above and beyond and start to connect to the cause before they get to the Dominican Republic,” says Brittany Tough, WestJet’s Community Investment Advisor. “Year over year since we’ve asked them to do so, they have surpassed their goal – and in some cases doubled it – allowing us to make a bigger impact in the communities we know and love. It truly is WestJetters’ care, passion and commitment to making a difference that propels these projects and fuels their hearts to be a part of something that connects them to the communities we serve and the people we care about throughout our network.”

Over 10 years, WestJet and WestJetters have raised more than $105,000 in additional funds.

And these funds have opened up a world of possibilities.

Choosing community projects

We strive to ensure that our annual over-fundraising projects are sustainable and truly benefit the entire community. Each year, we work with local leaders, organizations and our team in the Dominican Republic to see how we can make a positive, sustainable and lasting impact.

WestJet has always been enthusiastic about staying involved to see how they can contribute, not only with WestJet homes and projects but in other areas as well.

WestJet has made significant enhancements within local communities by …

  • buying land and playground equipment for a new children’s club (and later providing maintenance for this equipment);
  • buying equipment for a local medical clinic and underwriting the salary of a doctor to be at the clinic three days a week for one year;
  • refurbishing basketball courts for local youth;
  • improving roadways and infrastructure;
  • assisting with funding for hurricane relief;
  • building an ocean breaker wall;
  • cleaning and assisting at the local dump (and later building a waste management centre); and
  • supporting house renovations and other humanitarian items

“WestJet has been an incredible partner and to be able to recognize 10 years of working together – hands-on with WestJetters from all areas of the WestJet community – is something we are extremely proud of,” says Alison, Interim Director of International Programs.

“The sheer number of WestJetters we’ve been able to work with and the magnitude of their over-fundraising illustrates the strength of the partnership and the commitment to having a positive impact on others. However, it’s the re-engagement of WestJetters along with their colleagues, friends and family – the depth of the WestJet community, in and outside of the work day – that truly speaks to the sense of community that WestJet and LiveDifferent share.”

Soaring higher together

This amazing connection between WestJet and LiveDifferent has grown and developed over the past 10 years. From the homes that love built to the connections that the WestJet LiveDifferent Builds program has helped to foster and the incredible over-fundraising that supports entire communities, we have created something truly special.

Through our commitment and dedication to one another, as well as the communities we serve, we have been able to make a difference and show the world what love can do.

And we will continue to do so in the years to come.

Author: Gina Alward

Date: April 28th, 2023

She Went With Friends, Then Experienced a Build Solo – Q & A with Emily

Emily’s first Build was alongside familiar faces as part of a group, then she decided to sign up for one of our public Builds without knowing anyone else. We talked with Emily about her two trips, found out how it felt to visit the family she had previously built with, and asked her what she hopes to never forget from her most recent time in the Dominican Republic.

Your first experience was on a group Build. Who was that with?
I first learned about Builds from my dance teacher, Kelci Tookey. She has been going to the Dominican Republic with LiveDifferent since 2011 and has been doing Builds ever since. Kelci started her own group called Building Dreams, which I had the honour of joining in 2018. It was a really special trip because not only did we get to help build a home for an amazing family, we also got to help build a dance studio. It was an experience that I will treasure forever.

I am so thankful to Kelci for sharing her passion because being a part of that Build absolutely changed my life. She was very encouraging of me to join a public build and I am so happy I did.

You chose to come back on a public Build and mentioned that a highlight for you was being able to meet people you didn’t already know. Were there any specific moments where you knew you were forming lasting friendships?
I remember talking with Aerin, another volunteer, on the bus ride back to the resort. By this time our group was feeling like a family. We were so in awe of the fact that, amongst people who were practically strangers, we both felt the most at home. We described that while on the Build, we were able to be the most authentic versions of ourselves. We felt completely understood by our peers, which is a feeling we have struggled to find back in Canada. It was upsetting to be leaving a place of such love but also comforting to know that place even existed.

Going back to the Dominican Republic, you had the chance to visit the family that you had previously built for. What was that like?
I was so excited to see the family, and a little nervous. I knew they were not expecting me and I was coming alone without my group. Only one of the oldest sisters was home but as soon as she saw me, she got right on the phone to call the rest of the family. The grandson, who I made a special connection with last year, was at his mother’s house and when I said “¡Hola!” to him on FaceTime, his jaw dropped and the call immediately ended. Minutes later he came bursting through the door and into my arms, hardly able to catch his breath because he ran all the way to the house. There was no better feeling in the world than getting to see his smile again.

What is one thing that you’ve learned during this last Build that you hope your future self will never forget?
Every time I talk about the Builds, all I can say is how thankful I am. I am so thankful that I have learned what I have about myself and about life. I came on my first Build when I was 18 years old, a few months after graduating from high school. It was a time where I felt lost and without a purpose. I didn’t see the value in much of anything and I never felt like I was enough.

The people that I have met and the experiences I have had during these Builds have changed my entire outlook on life. I have been taught so much kindness, appreciation and support, and have been given the inspiration and the confidence to create goals for myself that I would have never previously imagined.

I hope I never forget that no matter how much you have, there is always something to give. I hope I never forget how amazing it feels to be surrounded by people who love you for you. I hope I remember that hugs are always better than handshakes, and that there are so many more important things happening that are not on my phone. I hope I never lose the passion I have right now. I see myself being a part of things like this for a very long time, if not, for the rest of my life. But no matter where life takes me, I hope that I never forget that the greatest thing in life is joy—and that people are the best way to find it.

Author: LiveDifferent

Date: January 16th, 2023

Talking with Jade about Fundraising and Life-Changing Connections

There wasn’t a lot of time to pull everything together, but Jade’s determination—and a little help from friends and family along the way—made it happen.

In January 2018, she found herself in the middle of our presentation that was focused on kindness. During that time, she was introduced to the Builds program and received the invitation to make a difference with us internationally. One month later, she signed up for our March Break Build to the Dominican Republic.

Now, it was time to start fundraising.


She found success early
For that first trip, her parents gave her a list of 30 emails. 

Armed with her fundraising page, some information on the cause, and the support of her parents, Jade sent individual messages to each of them. And to her surprise, she met her goal in just over a week. 

While it seems relatively straightforward, when reflecting on her fundraising success, Jade admits that to see success, there is a bit more to it than asking.

“If you’re just sending out a quick email like, “Hey, please donate.”, it’s not as impactful as you, sending pictures or talking to them face-to-face. Once people understand how passionate you are about it, they are more willing to help out and contribute.”

During her time on the Build, Jade was able to make strong connections and work alongside a family to build them a safe, new home. Together with other volunteers, she played a part in leaving lasting change in the community—and it left her wanting to return.

Go-back motivation
Seeing the difference that a home has on a family first hand made Jade want to return and do it all over again. But the second time fundraising proved to be a little more difficult.

“The first time is a lot easier, and then it progressively gets more and more difficult. Going back to the same people is really hard because they are more resistant.” 

Jade admits that she found herself feeling a little worried about hitting her goal and started pursuing other ways to raise money, including bake sales and raffles. She also expanded the circle of people she would ask for support to include teachers along with friends and their families.

Spoiler alert: Jade reached her goal and returned to the Dominican Republic.

Julia and Jade in the Dominican


Sharing advice for people getting into fundraising
With two successful fundraising campaigns under her belt, we asked her what encouragement she would share with peers wanting to make a difference but worried about fundraising.

“If I had tips for anybody looking to fundraise for their own Build, I think the biggest thing is being persistent. Because at first, you may not get the result that you want, and it may be harder than you really think… so just try not to be down. The more you radiate a positive energy towards what you are doing, and you talk about it, the more people are willing to listen and contribute.”

When coming up with fundraising ideas, she believes that everything should be on the table and encourages people to not look at the amount raised because every little bit helps. 

But in the end, to Jade, successful fundraising is all about relationships.


Author: LiveDifferent

Date: February 23rd, 2021