Martin Parnell uses Harry Potter game to support Right to Play

Challenging a Guinness World Record is ambitious; beating a world record is a feat, but doing it all for a great cause takes it above and beyond.

Martin Parnell—a 58-year-old native of Cochrane, Alta.— has proven to be the type of person to go above and beyond. He is passionate about the impact that play can have on children and their futures. It is this passion that has led Parnell to embark on the journey of a lifetime.

He is challenging himself to beat 10 Guinness World Records at 10 Canadian universities over 26 days. 

Endeavour in Calgary

Martin Parnell’s Quest For Kids

Sept. 19. Record Attempt: 300-person exhibition game of volleyball
Quest University, Squamish, B.C. 

Sept. 22. Record Attempt: 90-person exhibition game of Quidditch
University of Calgary, Calgary, Alta.

Sept. 24. Record Attempt: 100-person Tunnel Ball game
University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alta.

Sept. 29. Record Attempt: 100m-dash relay
Western University, London, Ont.

Oct. 1. Record Attempt: European Handball
Wilfrid Laurier University, Waterloo, Ont.

Oct. 3. Record Attempt: Ball Hockey
University of Toronto, Humber College, Ryerson University, Toronto, Ont.

Oct. 6. Record Attempt: 299-people doing a love clap
McGill University, Montreal, Que.

Oct. 7. Record Attempt: 250-people playing capture the flag
Univ. of New Brunswick, Fredericton, N.B.

Oct. 9. Record Attempt: 75-people exhibition game of ultimate frisbee
Mount Allison University, Sackville, N.B.

Oct. 14. Record Attempt: 374-people exhibition game of ice hockey
Memorial University, St. John’s, N.L.

His stop on Sept. 22 saw him host and participate in the largest ever Quidditch match at the University of Calgary’s intramural field. 

“It didn’t look like we were going to do it because we didn’t have the numbers, but we stuck at it,” he says.

Organizers recruited 97 participants — seven more than they needed to beat the previous record.

Participants squared off with broomsticks in hand in a match resembling a mix of rugby, basketball and dodgeball, based off of the fictional sport from the Harry Potter book series.

Participant Fiona Fulton-Bowles says she was thrilled to be a part of making history.

“I think this is awesome, and so much fun,” she says.

Parnell’s passion for youth activity

“I’ve been doing the Quest For Kids for five years,” says Parnell. “The initiative is 10 quests in five years to raise a million dollars for Right to Play.”

This coast-to-coast event is Parnell’s final venture for his ambitious fundraising campaign for the organization – active in over 20 countries worldwide; motivated towards helping children create lasting and transformative change using the power of play.

“Kids can learn amazing life skills that they honestly don’t know; just through a game. Then they can teach their friends,” says Jessica Charles, the University of Calgary’s Right to Play president.

The records Parnell is attempting to beat on his nation wide journey range from the biggest exhibition game of volleyball, to a game with the most tunnel ball players playing at a single time.

Parnell joined Right to Play after he became aware of the life-changing impact that play had on children while on an international trip in 2005.

“What struck me most during my trip to Africa was how I could communicate through sport with children,” he says.

Martin Parnell (left) poses with Olympic speed skater Gilmore Junio. Junio supports Quest for Kids by participating in the record-breaking Quidditch tournament at U of C in Sept. 22.

Photo by Tiffany Ritz

He began his partnership with the organization in 2010 by running 250 marathons over a year, which he named “Marathon Quest 250.” Parnell raised $320,000, exceeding his original goal of $250,000 by 22 per cent.

Throughout his partnership with Right to Play he has completed nine out of the 10 challenges that he set for himself with Quest for Kids.

“I made this commitment to help the 20,000 kids, and as long as I can keep moving I’m going to keep doing this,” says Parnell.

tritz@cjournal.ca