Wesleyan students fast for Middletown's hungry

Nadeem Modan passes out Fast-a-Thon t-shirts/contributedMIDDLETOWN – The annual Fast-a-Thon at Wesleyan University will be Nadeem Modan’s legacy.

He graduates this school year and will participate in his final Fast-a-Thon at the university on Oct. 1, hopefully, he said, with hundreds of his peers.

Modan, who has always fasted this time of year with fellow Muslims for Ramadan, the Islamic month of fasting, began the Fast-a-Thon in 2007 as a way to bring awareness about hunger to campus.

Fasting, he said, is a spiritual custom practiced across many religious platforms and thought if he could get his colleagues to fast with him for a day during Ramadan, no matter their denomination, he could raise funds for Middletown’s hungry.

“Every faith tradition fasts in some form or another,” he said. “The idea of the fast is to bring all people together through shared values. Our differences don’t divide us, we can work together for the common good.”

He is studying pre-med and religion at Wesleyan and is also involved in the campus’s interfaith ministry.

Modan, 21, explained that participants fast for one day and donate the money they would have spent on food to the local food pantry and/or soup kitchen. He noted, however, that some people donate money and don’t fast, and visa versa.

Ron Krom, executive director of St. Vincent DePaul, the umbrella organization for the Middletown soup kitchen and Amazing Grace food pantry, said the Fast-a-Thon brings the campus and the community together and has become a significant fundraiser for his organization.

“I think the message it sends is that people of all faiths have this kind of universal commitment to share their wealth with the poor,” he said. “People across faiths come together to work together and come together to share what we have with our neighbors.”

About 250 students, faculty and staff participated the first year. In 2008, the event exploded, bringing in 850 people and raising $11,400. This year, Modan said, he hopes the Fast-a-Thon will be even bigger. Modan added that he is hopeful someone will take the Fast-a-Thon over next year.

The event is open to anyone.  On the evening of Oct. 1 students will break the fast at a banquet in Beckham Hall on the Wesleyan Campus, 45 Wyllys Ave. Modan said the first 500 or so students in the door can hear the speakers. The event has become so popular, he said, that many students are unfortunately turned away because there is not enough room in the building for them.

“It’s very humbling,” he said. “It reminds me of the goodness of people.”

The program will begin at 5:45 p.m., then at 6:30 p.m. will be the Muslim call to prayer, and then guests will be served dates and juice and break the day-long fast.

Interested participants can register here.






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