In May 2019, Marcel Bootsman will be lacing up a pair of hiking boots and walking 700km (435 miles) from his home in Rotterdam to WordCamp Europe in Berlin. Bootsman, a WordPress consultant and WordCamp organizer, is walking to raise funds and awareness for the DonateWC organization.
The DonateWC initiative provides a global fund for helping people in need of financial assistance to attend a big WordCamp. Donations go towards individually-tailored sponsorships that help selected attendees purchase a WordCamp ticket, door-to-door transportation, food and drink, and internet access.
“Imagine for a moment that you are not backed by a company that will pay for you to go to a community event,” DonateWC founder Ines van Essen said. “You work hard at being a valuable community member but are never able to actually meet the others in your team. This means you are less likely to get a job, less likely to get recognized as a worthwhile member, you’re unlikely to be at the front-end of changes that impact your work significantly.”
DonateWC aims to keep the larger WordCamps from being unintentionally exclusive of those with lesser financial means. Bootsman said he believes in the organization because it is community-driven and enables the greater WordPress community to do something for their fellow community members.
So far, Bootsman’s walking journey has raised €116.57. He set up a walktowc.eu website to track his progress and the donation page displays a live update of donated funds. Contributors have the option to designate their donations for DonateWC or for Bootsman’s personal needs on the trek. He plans to deliver all of the funds raised for the organization when he arrives in Berlin. In the coming weeks he will also open up sponsor packages to better motivate companies to donate.
Bootsman does not plan to work during his trek. He will be on the road for approximately 30 days and plans to walk 30km per day. He is traveling light with just a backpack and is looking for places where he can sleep along the way. Bootsman will update the Route page on his website with the places where people volunteer a bed for him to spend the night.
If you want to keep track of his progress, follow the hashtag #walktwceu on Twitter. Bootsman has published his first vlog about his training sessions (see video below) where you can hear in his own words why his making the long journey on foot. When I asked him if he’ll be walking home after WordCamp Europe, he said, “You’re kidding, right?”