After the Chinese wushu team invited Bernardo Garcia to train with them for the Wushu Tournament Beijing 2008, the Argentine Rotaract club member and the Rotary Club of La Rioja, La Rioja, Argentina, reached out to Beijing Rotarians for support.


Garcia didn't receive financial support from the government of Argentina because wushu, a full-contact sport derived from traditional Chinese martial arts, isn't an official Olympic sport; it is a recognized International Olympic Committee competition.

Not wanting to waste a great opportunity, he raised enough money to make the trip to Beijing. However, finding accommodations during the Olympic Games is no small feat.

Nidia Acuña, president of the La Rioja club, contacted Gilbert Van Kerckhove, a member of the Rotary Club of Beijing, to see if he could help Garcia upon his arrival. Van Kerckhove, an investment promotion adviser for the Office for Beijing Olympics 2008 Projects, came through with the gold, finding a hotel room for Garcia.

"Obviously, these are hectic times in Beijing," said Van Kerckhove. "But our club is good at arranging logistics, and we managed to find a low-cost hotel that was close to transportation."

"Van Kerckhove and the Beijing club were a great help," said Acuña. "I really appreciate the importance of an organization like Rotary, which made it possible for two different cultures to come together in order to help an athlete like Garcia fulfill a dream."

The Beijing club also found a five-star hotel for the Belgian Olympic Committee and helped Rotarians traveling abroad get competition tickets. The club hosts a hospitality cocktail hour for visiting Rotarians every Thursday evening at the Hilton Beijing during the Olympic Games.