For the first time, beneficiaries and corporate partners of Community Chest will be teaming up for the “Race to the Sky” vertical marathon at this year’s ComChest Heartstrings Walk, to promote interaction and mutual understanding through this collaborative effort. 18-year-old Neo Yong Tai, who has benefited from Youth Guidance Outreach Services (YGOS), will be one of the participants on 18 August.
Yong Tai’s positive outlook and good rapport with peers belies a troubled past. He was heavily addicted to gaming and as a result, skipped school frequently, had poor school results and strained relationship with his parents. Due to his gaming addiction and disinterest in school, Yong Tai also struggled in managing his social life. After being introduced to YGOS, a youth agency funded by Community Chest, he overcame his gaming addiction, improved his school attendance and results drastically, and mended his relationship with his parents. Grateful to YGOS for helping him change for the better, Yong Tai is currently a regular volunteer with YGOS, and uses his experiences in mentoring other youth facing similar issues.
Partnering Yong Tai in the vertical marathon is Ms Judy Hoe, Senior Executive, Category Development and Merchandising from NTUC FairPrice, and two other beneficiaries, 15-year-old Jonathan Lim and 18-year-old Leslie Goh, from YGOS. 31-year-old Judy is a mother of a one-year-old daughter and feels passionate about helping children and youth overcome their challenges in life. “I am excited about participating in the vertical marathon as it is the first time I am doing so. As an active volunteer, I feel it is meaningful for me to able to challenge myself alongside the beneficiaries and know them better through this interaction,” said Judy.
The vertical marathon will also see the largest number of beneficiaries taking part since it first started. In total, 17 beneficiaries from three charities serving youth, families and persons with disabilities will be scaling 57 storeys of the Marina Bay Sands Hotel and capping off the memorable experience with a bird’s eye view of the Singapore skyline at the Sands SkyPark.
Strong support from corporate partners for ComChest Heartstrings Walk
This year’s ComChest Heartstrings Walk also received strong support from corporate partners, which collectively fielded the largest number of participants for the vertical marathon and fun walk by corporate organisations in the last three years. 65 organisations will be represented by over 5,000 participants who will join theGuest-of-Honour, Acting Minister for Social and Family Development Mr Chan Chun Sing, for the walk. This is an increase of 70% in the total number of participants from corporate organisations as compared to last year. One long-standing corporate partner is the Keppel Group, which has sent a total of six teams for the vertical marathon and over 130 walkers in these three years.
Mr Wong Chou Soon, Project Manager from Keppel Shipyard, and Mr Yong Wei Der, Assistant Project Manager from Keppel Shipyard, are two regular faces at the vertical marathon. This year, they will attempt to defend the title that their team has held for the past two consecutive years. Despite sustaining injury to his knee caps,Chou Soon is driven to attempt the vertical marathon for the third time this year and maintain the timing he clocked last year which ranked third amongst all individuals. “The 57 storeys represent obstacles that we face in our life. I want to challenge myself to overcome this. At Keppel, we believe in being passionate about what we do and having a ‘Can Do’ attitude. Through this, I hope to encourage the beneficiaries not to give up when they face problems in their lives. I also hope this endeavour will inspire more Keppelites to participate in charitable causes,” said Chou Soon.
Another strong corporate supporter is Marina Bay Sands, which has co-organized the ComChest Heartstrings Walk with Community Chest for the third consecutive year. Mr George Tanasijevich, President and Chief Executive Officer for Marina Bay Sands, said, “Marina Bay Sands is committed to giving back to Singapore in substantial and creative ways, and we are proud to co-organise the Heartstrings Walk 2013 @ Marina Bay with Community Chest for the third consecutive year. This year, we experienced overwhelming response from companies and the people of Singapore as we attracted 7,000 participants for the walk, the largest number ever seen in the history for the ComChest Heartstrings Walk @ Marina Bay. We also successfully raised a record-setting sum of $1.35 million and these funds will go a long way in helping needy families, frail and vulnerable elderly, children with special needs, youth-at-risk and persons with disabilities. This exciting event is set to end Marina Bay Sands’ first-ever large scale charity event, Sands for Singapore Festival, on a high note and we look forward to continued partnership with Community Chest to better the lives of those in the local community.”
Building an inclusive society
“Community Chest is grateful to our network of stakeholders and partners in the public, private and people sector for their strong support in this year’s ComChest Heartstrings Walk. I am delighted to hear that the number of beneficiaries and caregivers joining us for the walk this year more than doubled to 680. They come from 14 of our funded charities that serve a wide range of needs from providing children with special needs with tailored education to caring for lonely and frail seniors. Over $24 million from the funds raised by Community Chest this year goes towards helping them deliver these critical social services,” said Ms Ng Ling Ling, General Manager of Community Chest.
One of the 14 Community Chest-supported charities taking part in the 4km walk is Canossian School and 48-year-old Mr Hadi Hamid, an audio-logical technician from the school, has taken part in the walk every year since it was held in Marina Bay. Though he was born without his left leg due to a congenital condition, Hadi has exhibited resilience in overcoming obstacles and takes pride in being able to provide for his family of six. He also helps children with hearing impairment by making customised and good quality ear moulds for over a decade in his daily work.
For the first time, members of the public can also look forward to experiential activities during the carnival at Marina Bay Sands Event Plaza. Through activities like assembling items blindfolded, moving around with weights tied to the limbs and a wheelchair obstacle course, the public will be able to experience the challenges faced by the beneficiaries in their daily lives. These are part of Community Chest’s efforts towards building an inclusive society and integrating the beneficiaries into the community.