SINGAPORE - A Singaporean fresh graduate who lost his grandfather to cancer is going on a solo expedition on foot in Mongolia to raise $10,000 for Singapore Cancer Society.
Scott Tay Wei Kiat will be going on a 800km journey in July for 25 to 26 days, starting from Mongolia's capital city Ulaanbaatar and heading down south to the Gobi Desert, where the temperature will rise above 40 deg C.
The 25-year-old, who recently graduated from Ireland's University College Dublin with a degree in business marketing, told The Straits Times that he wanted to go on the expedition to raise funds for cancer patients, and to let them know that there are people who are willing to help them out.
"It is to let the cancer patients, or even people who are facing great difficulties in life, know that there are always people out there willing to help them out, be it physically or emotionally, and never to raise the white flag but continue to live life tenaciously with optimism no matter what," said Mr Tay.
His grandfather, who had lived with his family since Mr Tay was born, died from lung cancer when Mr Tay was in Secondary 2. Mr Tay was with his grandfather throughout the latter's fight against the disease.
"I want my perseverance and determination from this 800km journey across Mongolia by foot to reach the hearts of these cancer patients, including everyone around me," he said. "I want to encourage and empower these people to be strong and live life positively no matter what."
Mr Tay, who has two younger sisters, approached the Singapore Cancer Society (SCS) to start this campaign on fund-raising site giving.sg, which has raised only $2,120 of the $10,000 goal so far.
A spokesman for SCS told The Straits Times that the funds raised from his expedition will assist cancer patients "in the form of financial aid and medical supplies to pay for the cost of their cancer treatment such as chemotherapy, hospitalisation, medication, and to help them tide over difficult periods that they're facing".
"He wants his expedition to serve as an encouragement for cancer patients to keep fighting on and move forward with positivity every single day and not give up hope," said the spokesman. "He also wants them to know that there are others, like him, supporting them during their battle and willing to go the extra mile to make them feel better regardless of their financial situation."
Mr Tay will begin his journey on July 1 and aim to end by July 25 to 28. He has gone on solo backpacking trips to regions such as Pakistan, Bangladesh and Uzbekistan, funded with money from full-time jobs he held while in university.
However, this is his first time embarking on such a project.
Asked why he chose to go to Mongolia, Mr Tay said he has friends there who can help with logistics and advice, and the Gobi Desert is a challenge he wants to overcome.
He said he will experience soaring temperatures of up to 45 deg C. "If I chose an easy path, that wouldn't mean anything to my cause."
Asked how his family reacted, he said they were really supportive of his contribution to society, but were also worried about his safety.
He has been training for the expedition by going for long runs, lifting weights and preparing by sourcing for food and supplements and planning routes and back-up plans.
He will also be participating in the 15km competitive category in the Singtel-Singapore Cancer Society Race Against Cancer 2017 on July 30 to raise funds and cancer awareness for SCS.
According to the latest cancer report released by the National Registry of Diseases Office, one in four men and one in five women in Singapore are likely to get cancer by the time they are 75 years old.
ST reported last year that there were 13,241 cancer cases in 2014 and the deadliest type was lung cancer, which killed more than three people a day from 2010 to 2014.