Cyclists with compassion raise $40k for charity

23 riders brave weather woes during 850km trip; they also spend time at Thai orphanage

Through fog, heavy rain and temperatures that veered from 36 deg C to 11 deg C, a group of 23 riders from Singapore and elsewhere cycled for eight days in Thailand.

Aged 19 to 65, they were taking part in a cycling event to raise funds for charity.

They cycled 850km from Sing Buri province in central Thailand to Chiang Mai in the north last month. This is roughly equivalent to riding along the perimeter of Singapore four times.

The Cyclists With Compassion (CWC) group, which also had cyclists from Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand and Australia, raised A$40,000 (S$39,500) for charity.

"We are avid cyclists, so the idea of a cycling-based charity was easily conceived," said Mr Reiner Ebenhoch, 59, who organised the ride with his wife Selina Vong-Ebenhoch, 52.

Both are former directors of business and management consultancy Medialive, but have since retired and are based in Australia.

The group encountered numerous obstacles on the way, the worst being the strange weather.

Ms Nikki Suwanee Pereira, the youngest at 19, said: "Even the four layers I was wearing were insufficient due to the cold wind."

Co-organiser Grace Young-Diao, 53, a former national bowler, said a responsibility to sponsors kept her going despite the tough conditions.

The council member of the Singapore Bowling Federation said: "I also believe we are stronger than we know and think, when we dig deep."

On the seventh day of the ride, the group arrived at Baan Fah Sighy, an orphanage in Chiang Mai. They spent the afternoon there and distributed pillows to the children.

Ms Pereira, a former Victoria Junior College student waiting for her A-level results, recounted how a boy not older than 10 started to cry upon receiving his pillow.

He was very thankful to be finally given one of his own, according to translations by the local guide.

"This incident really jolted me into realising how fortunate I was to have a comfortable life back home," said Ms Pereira.

All proceeds from the ride will be given to Effective Aid International (EAI), a non-profit organisation based in Australia that focuses on development for underprivileged communities. It plans to use the money to develop Baan Fah Sighy and build schools in Myanmar.

"There are cyclists with compassion everywhere, and there is a need everywhere," said Mr Ebenhoch. "My dream would be to see CWC expand beyond Thailand and even Asia as independent initiatives, but with a common goal."


• The public can still contribute by donating at www.effectiveaid.org/cyclists-with-compassion/. Experienced cyclists interested in CWC 2017 can contact organisers at contact4cwc@gmail.com

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 15, 2016, with the headline 'Cyclists with compassion raise $40k for charity'. Print Edition | Subscribe