It was a leisurely walk for some and a leap for faith for others, but the ‘25th Wheel, Walk or Jog 2009’ (WWJ 2009) brought both the disabled and the able-bodied together for a worthy cause. Held on Sunday, 5 July 2009 at HortPark, off Alexandra Road, the event featured a 1.6km walk as its main highlight and was organized by the Handicaps Welfare Association (HWA) as one of its major fund-raising events for the year. As the participants of the walk were flagged off by Guest-of-Honor, Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr George Yeo, it was certainly a sight to behold as some 200 disabled members from HWA set off, most in a wheelchair or sporting a prosthetic leg. Accompanying them were 150 dedicated and enthusiastic volunteers, many of whom helped to push the wheelchair-bound participants along the entire route, hence, enabling everyone to take part. Held annually, WWJ 2009 is not only a fund-raising event, but also an opportunity for the members and volunteers of HWA to come together to enjoy themselves and bond together. Following the walk, the participants proceeded to enjoy some refreshment and games, as well as a lucky draw. Many returned looking triumphant and elated to have completed the challenge. Not all found it trying, however, such as Mohammed Shariff, a marathon runner with a prosthetic leg, who found it almost effortless.
|PHOTOS: Cassandra Gayle A.|
Said Jack Lie, a wheelchair-bound member of HWA who actively takes part in sports events like basketball and bowling, “This event is good because the morning walk perks us up. We hope that more Singaporeans will come and support our events by joining us.” HWA was set up in 1969 by 23 members to promote self-help and provide mutual support among the disabled in Singapore. It is an organization run by people with disabilities, for people with disabilities. Since then, HWA has expanded to a 1,800-strong membership today, with more than 200 regular volunteers, offering services such as rehabilitation, transportation for the disabled and a befrienders service, among others. This year, HWA aims to raise at least S$300,000 from WWJ 2009 to further expand and improve the quality of services provided to its members. Some of HWA’s longtime volunteers were also present at WWJ 2009, including Dennis Khoo, who is 72 years old this year and has been volunteering with HWA for 28 years. Said Roger Tan, a volunteer with HWA for 30 years, “I have an inner satisfaction when I treat the members as my friends and help them. You must have the heart to help others; this has been my motivation all the time. The mindset of Singaporeans today towards volunteering could do with the same motivation!”