Hydro's Raeren extrusion plant received more than 1,000 visitors in its role as co-sponsor of Oxfam Trailwalker, a two-day charity event in Belgium that concluded on August 31. The event supports Oxfam projects in developing countries.
Six-hunded participants challenged themselves to walk 100 kilometers in 30 hours, the first such event that the non-profit organization has organized on the European continent. The event started and finished in Eupen, and took place entirely in Belgium.
Hydro's Raeren plant served as host of the first checkpoint on the morning of August 30. More than 1,000 visitors – including supporters, general public and media – were present at the site to cheer on the participants and enjoy breakfast and Dixieland music.
"As one of the community's largest employers, we wanted to give back a little extra with this event. It is part of our social commitment," says Johan van Putten, the plant's managing director.
The company also sponsored one of the four-person teams in the event, Team Hydro.
More than expected
Jürgen Vanpraet, one of the event's organizers, says the walk raised more than €300,000, or around 50 percent higher than anticipated. Next year, he says Oxfam intends to double the size of the European event.
"We would like Hydro to again support us, and perhaps participate with teams from some of the countries where it is active," he says. "We find that events like this are also valuable internally for international companies like Hydro."
Hydro in Raeren also sponsors youth football and school projects, as well as a community dance group and local handball club. The company is one of the largest employers in Raeren and the surrounding area.
"It's important for us to have the biggest enterprises supporting this and other activities," says Kurt Rathmes, who is regional leader in the Belgian Ministry of Sport, Youth and Tourism.
"We're very happy with what Hydro has done here, inviting the public and making the event even more special."
Oxfam International is an international group of independent non-governmental organizations dedicated to fighting poverty and related injustice around the world.