16 Apr 1998

Business Times, Thursday, April 16, 1998

Fund-raising group Bike Aid will pedal to Haadyai
in June to raise $200,000


Geared for charity: the Bike Aid riders during a recent training ride to Mersing.

When was the last time you went to Thailand … on a bicycle?

Bike Aid, a cycling group, will do just that this June in the name of charity. It will be their fifth long-distance fund-raising ride since 1992.

The band of riders, which has grown to 35 from an initial eight (largely professionals and businessmen), will pedal to Haadyai in an attempt to raise $200,000. They aim to complete the 1,035 km trip via the east coast in 140 hours – or within six days.

The task is similar to one which they accomplished two years ago, when a group of 10 raised $115,000 for the Hospice Care Association – also by riding to the southern Thai city (but via a slightly shorter route along the west coast).

Previous rides have yielded between $25,000 and $60,000. In all, the group has raised $250,000 for various independent or semi-independent charity organizations in the last six years.

Not an unimpressive track record for a group that started out as an informal gathering of fellows who simply shared a common love: cycling. Part of the inspiration to put wheel-power to charity work came from a like-minded organization of the same name in the US.

This time round, the funds will be for the Kidney Dialysis Foundation (KDF), which provides subsidized dialysis treatment to needy people stricken with end-stage renal diseases.

Bike Aid president David Hoong said he’s quite confident of hitting the $200,000 target, despite the current economic climate.

“Of course when we started planning about a year ago, we didn’t quite take into account the situation now, but we should be able to hit the target because we now have quite a big group of fund-raisers,” he said.

As before, Mr Hoong is counting on corporations to be the biggest supporters. BT understands one listed company has pledged $2,000 for every hour the group manages to shave off its estimated trip time.

Motor distributor Cycle & Carriage has agreed to supply a support vehicle (a Mitsubishi multi-purpose vehicle), Yeo Hiap Seng will provide drinks and China Insurance will see to the coverage needs of the group during the ride.

The Mitsubishi MPV will be modified to accommodate a special participant in the fund-raising project: William Tan, a Paralympic athlete known for his charity efforts, who will join the cyclists on their journey in a wheelchair.

Dr Tan, a paraplegic since the age of two, once wheeled to Penang. Others in the group include 59-year-old Vincent Wee, a retiree and the oldest cyclist in the endeavour; Italian Valerio Maussier, managing director of an oilfield equipment firm; and Peter Lim, an ex-money broker who now runs his own employment agency.

“Many of the riders are professionals and businessmen in their forties,” said leader of the band Mr Hoong, a 45-year-old insurer.

Among the youngest in the group are two of Mr Hoong’s children – a 16-year-old boy and an 18-year-old girl, both national triathletes.

Incidentally, this trip also marks the debut of women riders. Including Mr Hoong’s daughter, four will match the men stride for stride in their quest.

Still in the planning stage is a “send-off party”, in which well-wishers can ride with the group to the Causeway for a token fee, which will also go to the KDF. In fact, every cent collected will go to the foundation; and costs involved in the ride itself will be borne by the cyclists and their sponsors, reiterated Mr Hoong. Community Development Minister Abdullah Tarmugi will flag off the group on June 6, 6.30am.

If you want to chip in, donations can be made either in cash or by cheque to the Kidney Dialysis Foundation. Receipts will be issued. For more information, contact BikeAid at 346-4466 or fax 741-4466.

The funds will be for the Kidney Dialysis Foundation (KDF), which provides subsidized dialysis treatment to needy people stricken with end-stage renal diseases. The target is $200,000.

Special participant: Dr Tan, a paralympic athlete, will join Bike Aid on their Thailand trip in a wheel chair.

Reproduced with kind permission of The Business Times, Singapore This article appeared in The Business Times, Thursday, April 16, 1998

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