SINGAPORE - With sweat trickling down their faces, a group of students paddled hard on 12 rowing machines in a race against time. They braved sore muscles and also stares as they were not in the confines of a gym but in a shopping centre.
The Hwa Chong Institution students were part of a 24-hour kayaking challenge, to raise funds for the Muscular Dystrophy Association, Singapore.
At the basement of The Star Vista shopping centre, the students, split into teams and taking turns, started paddling on Saturday (May 19). More than 500 participants, including Hwa Chong Institution's Canoeing and Dragonboat team, alumni, friends and the public joined in the race.
The more distance they covered, the more sponsors and donors donated. By the end of the challenge on Sunday (May 20), they had raised more than $58,000.
Minister for Social and Family Development Desmond Lee also joined in and paddled for the cause.
Speaking to the students at the closing ceremony, he said: "No one is ever too young to make a difference. In Singapore, there are people of different abilities, different talents and who face different challenges. And your awareness in participating in today's activity shows that you are sensitive to the needs of others and you want to do something within your skill sets and talents to make that difference."
He added that the sums they raised were significant and would go a long way in helping those suffering from muscular dystrophy.
The project, which began as an annual affair in 2011 and subsequently a biennial one after 2014, aims to raise awareness about muscular dystrophy, which is a group of inherited muscular disorders that arise due to gene abnormalities. There is no known cure for the disease.
Students who took part were thankful for the experience.
"The main aim of the challenge was to really continuously paddle for 24 hours", said second-year student Ling Yi Xin, 18, who helped organise the event. " We wanted to use the event as a motivation to help raise funds to help these people who need it. Even when it was tough, what kept us going was that we are doing it not just for ourselves but for them."