Special needs kid to hand-cycle for charity

Jeremiah Liauw, 10, cannot walk, but he can ride - by moving just his arms - and will do that for 25km this month to raise funds for charity.

He was born with spina bifida, which affects his spine and causes his lower body to be weak. So, instead of riding a bicycle, he will hand-cycle in Ride for Rainbows to raise funds for Club Rainbow, which helps children with chronic and life-threatening illnesses.

Minister for Social and Family Development Tan Chuan-Jin will also take part and cycle 100km.

This is a first for him, and the first time that a minister is cycling that distance in the annual event, which is in its sixth edition this year.

The fund-raiser on April 29 has three segments: Cyclists can ride 100km, 50km or 25km. The last segment was added to this year's event to commemorate the charity's 25th anniversary.

Despite having spina bifida and not being able to walk, Jeremiah Liauw will hand-cycle 25km later this month in Ride for Rainbows to raise funds for Club Rainbow, which serves children with chronic illnesses.
Despite having spina bifida and not being able to walk, Jeremiah Liauw will hand-cycle 25km later this month in Ride for Rainbows to raise funds for Club Rainbow, which serves children with chronic illnesses. PHOTO: AZMI ATHNI FOR THE STRAITS TIMES

As of last night, more than $494,000 had been raised. More than $650,000 was raised last year.

Mr Tan is the top fund-raiser so far, having garnered more than $34,000 in donations, while Jeremiah has raised over $7,000.

The St Joseph's Institution Junior pupil told The Straits Times: "I want to help the children from Club Rainbow." He is also a beneficiary of the charity.

His mother, housewife Michele Liauw, 41, said: "We raised to him the suggestion of joining this event, as we knew he's got good arm strength. He was game for it. " She will also join the 25km ride with her husband and their 14-year-old son.

Jeremiah started hand-cycling in 2015, and then spent more time going for para-swimming training sessions. But he resumed his hand-cycling training a few weeks ago to prepare for the 25km ride.

He has been training with the Para Cycling Federation of Singapore for about two hours every Saturday, hand-cycling around the track in ITE College East in Simei.

Since the age of four, he has also been an inspirational sports hero. In 2010, he crawled - with knee guards, and shoes on his feet and hands - to the finish line during the 750m Kids Dash event of the Standard Chartered Marathon Singapore.

Last year, he bagged three gold medals at the Singapore Press Holdings Foundation National Para-Swimming Championships.

Club Rainbow president Sashikumar Ganapathy said: "It is an example of the courage our children have in facing the challenges of their illnesses. It's also heartening to see that a beneficiary is willing to raise funds for his charity and start giving back at such a young age."

Jeremiah said: "I think the ride is going to be fun. It's good to be able to have fun while raising funds."

• To donate, go to www.rideforrainbows.org

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 05, 2017, with the headline 'Special needs kid to hand-cycle for charity'. Print Edition | Subscribe