In his 50th hour straight of public speaking, Ian Hill tried to explain why he would attempt such a venture. But it was a struggle to get the words out.
“My tongue is swollen and I’m crying,” he said. “I wanted to let these kids know that they are loved by the parents, by me and by each other. The thing I wanted you to know the most is that you can set a goal and get up and get it. I wanted to role model that.”
Hill began 6 a.m. Thursday and spoke straight through 8 a.m. Saturday in an attempt to break the Guinness World Record for longest public speech. The attempt was a fundraising effort to send the girls in his CPAC soccer program to an international tournament.
Hill estimates it will need about $90,000 to take 80 girls to the Presidents Invitational Cup in Stony Plain, Alberta, Canada — just outside of Edmonton, where the FIFA Women’s World Cup will be taking place at the same time.
“We’re trying to prove that a group of regular kids can come together and build something special,” Hill said. “A team that takes all shapes and sizes and all abilities, a team built around the principle of love, can still beat a world-class team.”
He set a goal to raise $25,000 during the record-breaking attempt — a goal that seemed out of reach Friday night when he was $6,000 short.
“Even last night I said, ‘I don’t know if we can do it,’” Hill told the girls from his soccer program, many of whom stayed throughout the night. “But look what’s happened.”
In the final hours, donations began pouring in, until he was just more than $700 short in the final 15 minutes.
That’s when Heidi McFadden announced her RCM Realty Group would make up the difference.
“I know Ian, and I know he cares a lot about the kids in this community,” she said. “I did not want to see him go though 50 hours and not reach his goal.”
It could take up to seven weeks to verify if Hill’s attempt broke the sitting world record of 49 hours and 20 minutes.
But his players aren’t concerned about the certification.
“This is the greatest feeling in the world,” said Gaby Avina. “I’m so excited, and I just want to thank everybody.”
Donations came from across the country and North America, including $1,000 from the small fishing village of Twillingate, Newfoundland, Canada.
Hill reiterated his mantra, “All things are possible,” as his speech concluded after 50 hours.
“I’m gong to go home and go to bed,” he said. “But first I’m going to Grandma Hattie’s for a steak.”
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