The Great Fiat 126p Expedition (Pol. Wielka Wyprawa Maluchów) with its finale at the Main Square in Kraków

The Great Fiat 126p Expedition (Pol. Wielka Wyprawa Maluchów) with its finale at the Main Square in Kraków
The Alps, the Great Fiat 126p Expedition (Pol. Wielka Wyprawa Maluchów) 2023

Over PLN 1.5 million collected for children affected by traffic accidents

A parade of precisely 35 Fiat 126p cars arrived before the Saint Mary’s Basilica in Kraków—this being the finale of the largest automotive charity project. Cars of this brand, the so-called ‘Maluch’, departed from Bielsko-Biała on July 4 towards Monte Carlo as part of The Great Fiat 126p Expedition (Pol. Wielka Wyprawa Maluchów). The goal was to collect PLN 1 million for the youngest victims of traffic accidents and it was more than met as the online fundraiser account accumulated as much as PLN 1.5 million!

From Bielsko-Biała to Monte Carlo

As many as 4131 kilometres, 71 hours in freezing cold and scorching heat—this is the distance that the cars covered between Bielsko-Biała, Monte Carlo, and Kraków. Behind the wheel of each ‘Maluch’ sat passionate, big-hearted people, including the greats of motorsports, such as the Sobiesław Zasada / Longin Bielak team, a pair aged 190 years old, if counted together.

From the start to its final kilometres, the expedition was accompanied by a fundraiser on the platform and multiple auctions. In aggregate, the project accumulated over PLN 1.5 million. Among the supporters one may find, for instance, Iga Świątek, who donated her racket - the exact one she used during the victorious Roland Garros Tournament last year - to be auctioned. The buyer purchased it for over PLN 250 thousand. A bid of over half a million Polish zloty was submitted for two Maluch cars with a guarantee of participation in the next year’s Expedition.

The Grand Finale of the expedition at the Main Square in Kraków

During the Grand Finale at the Main Square in Kraków, the parade of Fiat 126p cars was welcomed by hundreds of citizens and tourists. For the first time ever, so many Fiat 126p cars turned up in this place, filled with history to the brim. Similarly, this was the first such grand automotive charity project.

‘I knew that we would be able to meet our goal from the very beginning! Our ‘procession’ garnered people’s affection and made them smile wherever we would go. Now we may only hope it will also bring smiles to the faces of the young victims of traffic accidents we want to help. Difficult routes gain a whole new meaning if there is a cause behind them. We did it!’ said Rafał Sonik, with 1st place in the Dakar Rally, a 9-time winner of the World Cup, and one of the Expedition’s advocates.

‘I am happy we returned home safely. It was not always easy, especially when passing through the famous Stelvio Pass—often considered to be one of the most difficult routes in the world! In my entire 70-year-long history of rallies, I had never seen anything like it. What matters, however, is our goal, and I am proud that we have managed to collect funds to support the youngest victims of traffic accidents. Without a doubt, I will join the Expedition next year again’, concluded Sobiesław Zasada, now 93 years old, the most decorated Polish racer. A dinner for three with the champion was put up for a special auction, which was sold for PLN 160 thousand.

As part of the Monte Carlo Rally in 1973, Zasada travelled this exact route with Longin Bielak, also in a Fiat 126p. Then, they bested it during the winter, in two days, without sleep, and with breaks of barely an hour to rest. ‘I still want to be active at this age, in a way that could be of use to someone. This was a sentimental journey for me, for sure, but what motivated me the most was the project’s goal: helping the children affected by traffic accidents’, said Bielak, now 97 years old, a multiple car race and rally champion.

The noble goal of the Great Fiat 126p Expedition (Pol. Wielka Wyprawa Maluchów)

In 2022, there were 1794 traffic accidents involving children aged 0-14. 53 children died in these, and 1863 were injured. The money collected will be donated to the Polish Automobile and Motorcycle Federation Foundation and the Inter Cars Foundation, the goal of which is to support road traffic safety.

‘Children are a special kind of victims, as they are still growing. In comparison, it is easier to help an adult, and the costs of such help vastly differ. Each zloty towards this goal is of crucial importance. In the coming weeks, we will set the application submission procedure in motion’, promised Cezary Droszcz, president of the Polish Automobile and Motorcycle Federation.

‘The problem is not negligible. There are still many traffic accidents on Polish roads, but the ones concerning children upset us especially. Every coin spent on help, therapy and equipment give people back their lives, faith, and hope. What is achieved during this project is very significant’, commented Grażyna Spychałowicz from the St. Louis Regional Specialised Children’s Hospital in Kraków.

‘I am pleased that we managed to involve 120 people to accomplish such a noble goal. We exchange each kilometer traveled for actual funds necessary to help children in need. Thanks to our expedition, we brought attention to the issue of the safety of children in road traffic. The Great Fiat 126p Expedition (Pol. Wielka Wyprawa Maluchów) is not a one-time event, but a project for many years, with plans to extend its scope further’, added Marcin Małysz, a Radio Kraków journalist, who organized the Expedition alongside his wide, Kinga.

The organisers are already planning the route for the 2024 Great Fiat 126p Expedition (Pol. Wielka Wyprawa Maluchów). The fundraiser will close on July 18th, and the auctions—on August 3rd.

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