SINGAPORE — They are avid cyclists who have been using their sport as a platform to raise health-related issues and charity drives in the past few years.
This year will be a particularly special year for these doctors and medical staff from Singapore General Hospital (SGH), as the institution is celebrating its 200th anniversary. And to commemorate the occasion, they will be taking part in the upcoming OCBC Cycle 2021 to raise funds for SGH's Needy Patients Fund.
The fund helps around 2,000 needy SGH patients each year to have continued access to life-saving treatment and care, after they have exhausted assistance schemes such as the Singapore government's MediFund. The cycling group aims to raise a total of $200,000 for the fund amid this special anniversary year.
To do their part, a group of 20 doctors and medical staff - which includes SGH chief executive officer Kenneth Kwek - will participate in the 42-kilometre The Sportive Virtual Ride category at the OCBC Cycle event, where they have to cycle the distance in four rides or fewer from 15 May to 13 June.
One of the participating doctors, Associate Professor Terence Kee, told Yahoo News Singapore in a Zoom interview on Monday (19 April) that it is important for the SGH staff to resume their fundraising efforts after a year of battling the COVID-19 pandemic.
"Last year, all of us were fighting the COVID 19 pandemic, and we were so busy making sure that the virus doesn't go out of control," said Kee, who is the senior consultant at SGH's Department of Renal Medicine and director of the hospital's renal transplant programme.
"Now that we are able to get some resemblance of normality, it is time for us to go back to providing healthcare as well as we used to be. More importantly it is time for us to resume fundraising for our patients, as a lot of philanthropic activities were suspended last year.
"This year, we're glad that there are opportunities to get back onto fundraising such as the OCBC Cycle 2021, and we need to help this group of patients who are often not seen or heard."
Use cycling to do good for patients
Kee, who is an avid cyclist who cycles every day, helped founded a fundraising cycling group for SingHealth staff in 2009, and the group had taken part in OCBC Cycle from 2013 to 2015 to help raise funds for SingHealth's transplant centre, located within SGH.
Two years ago, with SGH's 200th anniversary approaching, the cycling group decided to once again use their sport to do good for the hospital patients.
"The whole meaning of SGH's 200th anniversary is that we have been looking after Singaporeans for the last 200 years, and so we really wanted to raise funds and awareness of the needs of our patients. Taking part in OCBC Cycle 2021 fits into our initiative for the anniversary."
With many of the original founding members of the group having moved on, the group had publicity campaigns to recruit new members from the SGH staff, and the response was far better than expected, with over 40 staff signing up within days.
Besides the OCBC Cycle 2021 fundraising bid, the group had also organised a 200km round-the-island fundraising ride on 27 March, an all-day affair from 5.30am to 7.30pm in which they had to battle rainy conditions to complete their feat.
"After that ride, I think the 42km OCBC ride should be chicken feed for us," Kee said jokingly.
"But we're thankful of the support from our family and friends to let us train for this worthwhile cause. My family lets me off on Saturday mornings to train for the events, while my former schoolmates have been very supportive of the fundraising efforts. I'm very grateful."
More categories at OCBC Cycle 2021
The OCBC Cycle 2021 will feature both virtual and physical races, with the Speedway Championships road cycling races to be held on 29 May at the Singapore Sports Hub.
With safe-distancing measures remaining in place this year, mass participation rides will continue to be virtual.
Besides the three traditional categories - the 5km Mighty Savers Kids' Virtual Ride, the 23km The Straits Times Virtual Ride and the 42km The Sportive Virtual Rides - this year's edition will see two new categories: the 100km and 200km Virtual Rides.
To prove the completion of the virtual ride, participants have to submit their ride details and a photo of themselves with their bicycle, taken at any point of the ride. A fitness tracker or workout app can be used to record the ride details.
Registration is free for the 5km, 23km and 42km categories, while it costs $22 to register for the 100km ride and $25 for the 200km ride. Online registration will end on 14 May.
To donate to SGH's Needy Patients Fund, visit its donation page at Giving.sg.
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