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Ryerson Alumni Relations | December 2016

Record-breaking Ryersonians

Record-breaking Ryersonians

Jacob Morris, RTA ‘13, Franco Scanga, Urban and Regional Planning ‘00 and Filipe Masetti Leite, Journalism ‘11 personally challenged themselves to raise awareness for causes in 2016.


Jacob Morris, Radio and Television Arts ‘13, 10 half marathons in 23 days

Jacob Morris ran 10 half marathons in 23 days in support of mental health awareness.

Living with depression and anxiety, Jacob Morris found that running helped him care for his mental health.

When Morris first started running, getting around the block was a difficult task for him. Now, the 2013 RTA School of Media graduate recently completed running 10 half marathons across Canada as a part of his Run to Wellness campaign. “When I decided to start the Run to Wellness campaign, I wanted to do something big that showed people no matter how big the challenge, you can overcome it,” shares Morris.

The goal was to change the narrative around mental health by producing a documentary about the experience. “We chose to reject the storyline painting people with mental health issues as victims, taking something that can be immobilizing and turning it into something inspirational,” says Morris.

Morris found that sharing his own struggles with mental health helped others share their stories as well. “One in five Canadians will suffer from a mental illness at some point in their lives. I saw that first-hand as people opened up to me in private messages or on the road and talked about how they've been impacted by mental illness.”

Running in Toronto, Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Winnipeg, Halifax, Ottawa, Montreal and Kitchener-Waterloo was not an easy task. “The most difficult part of the entire Run to Wellness campaign was the travel and the physical toll that took on my body.” Not only did Morris run 10 half marathons across Canada, he did it in 23 days.

Morris credits his team supporters for helping him through his journey, “My team, including two other supremely talented RTA graduates, was my saving grace. They never had any doubt that we could accomplish the goal. Having outstanding partners for the project was a huge help as well; Ryerson University was a supporter right from the beginning and I cannot thank them enough,” says Morris.

For Ryersonians trying to break their own records, Morris has this advice: “Find what you're passionate about and go for it with conviction.”

To learn more about Jacob Morris and the Run to Wellness campaign, please visit:


Franco Scanga, Urban and Regional Planning ’00, Most Speeches in 24 Hours

Franco Scanga, Urban and Regional Planning ‘00 broke the Guinness World Record for the most speeches in 24 hours and raised $17,800 for cancer research.

When Franco Scanga’s father was diagnosed with cancer for a second time, he wanted to do something tangible to support him and help battle the disease which according to the Canadian Cancer Society impacts 2.4% of Canadians. The Canadian Cancer Society’s Fearless Challenge provided the perfect opportunity. 

After learning that public speaking ranked as the number one fear for many people (above death and disease), Scanga decided to attempt to beat the Guinness World Record for the most speeches in 24 hours. “I felt a desire to support my father in the most fearless way possible,” shares Scanga.

To beat the record, Scanga would have to deliver 23 different 10 minute speeches in less than 12 hours. He developed and followed a plan to strengthen his fitness level, memory and confidence in public speaking. Remaining focused turned out to be one of the biggest challenges. “There were so many moving parts required to make the event a success that it was often difficult to focus and refocus on each speech prior to delivering them,” reflects Scanga.

Scanga was not alone in his journey. “What began as a simple desire to take on a Fearless Challenge for my father, a very personal endeavor, turned into a community initiative where strangers and friends alike lent their support to the cause,” says Scanga.

Not only did Scanga break the Guinness World Record, he raised $17,800 for cancer research surpassing his fundraising goal of $16,000. “This was my first attempt at a fundraiser, and it was a great feeling to organize an event that brought so many people together in support of a common goal.”

To learn more about Franco Scanga and this event, visit his website at

Franco Scanga, Urban and Regional Planning ’00, Most Speeches in 24 Hours

Filipe Masetti Leite, Journalism ‘11, rode on horseback from Canada to Brazil.

When Filipe Masetti Leite was a child, his father read him Tschiffely’s Ride, the story of Aime Tschiffely’s 1925 Long Ride from Buenos Aires to New York. “I spent my entire life around horses and thinking about this epic adventure,” shares Leite. Fast forward a few years and Leite has just completed a horseback journey from Canada to Brazil, turning his childhood fantasy into a reality.

Before Leite began his trek, he was a journalism student at Ryerson University. “It was at Ryerson that I learned how to shoot properly, how to edit, how to find a good story.” These were the skills Leite used when documenting his ride from Canada to Brazil. “My time at Ryerson taught me that if I wanted something bad enough, all I had to do was reach for it.”

When Leite decided to take on the journey, he learned that the preparation process came with its own set of challenges. “At times I think it was harder than the Long Ride itself. I had nothing but a dream. People called me crazy; they said it wasn’t possible and that I would certainly be killed,” he says. In the end, Leite sold his project to a production company based out of Nashville, Tennessee, had the horses and equipment donated, and convinced the Calgary Stampede to allow him to ride out from the rodeo.

Caring for the horses was the most challenging part of his experience. “I was usually in the middle of nowhere, with no cellphone signal, no support vehicle, no water or food for the horses,” says Leite. Every day, he had to find essentials the horses needed and at times his search was not successful. “The animals become your children out there. You spend 24 hours a day, 7 days a week with them. To go to sleep without having water to offer my horses broke my heart into a million pieces,” Leite recalls.

While the journey had its difficulties, it also had its rewards.“This project has given me a new sense of hope in humanity. So many strangers helped me along the way, every single day. Sometimes they had very little, yet they chose to share that with me. A family in Guatemala butchered the only chicken they had to feed me one night,” shares Leite.

Whether you hope to travel the across the world on horseback or break your own personal record, Leite says to never give in to the naysayers. “If they really want it, they will have to work harder than they’ve ever worked before. They will have to make many sacrifices. Eat, sleep, live their dream. But in the end, when they cross the finish line, it will be the most gratifying moment of their lives,” says Leite.

Currently, Leite is on his second “Long Ride.” On April 10, 2016 he departed from Barretos, Sao Paulo on horseback and is riding to “the end of the world” - Ushuaia, Patagonia. Leite is riding to raise funds for the Barretos Cancer Hospital. To follow along on his journey, please visit:


– By Mahyn Qureshi, Journalism ‘17