IT WAS Joseph Schooling's birthday yesterday, and the swim star marked turning 20 in the spirit of giving - by donating $10,000 to charity.
Schooling, who won all nine of his events at the just-concluded SEA Games, gave $5,000 each to The Straits Times School Pocket Money Fund (SPMF) and the Eurasian Association (EA).
SPMF provides pocket money to children from low-income families to help them through school, something Schooling said he felt strongly about.
Said Schooling, who also set 10 Games records at the biennial meet: "I've had some friends who weren't as fortunate as me. I know what having even 50 cents and a dollar, what difference it can make, and that really touched me.
"I want to try and inspire a generation, and try to help kids that are less fortunate as much as I can. Children are the future of our country."
Mr Han Fook Kwang, ST's editor at large and chairman of the SPMF, as well as EA's second vice-president Yvonne Pereira were present in the ST newsroom to receive the cheques from Schooling.
Said Mr Han: "It's a wonderful gesture on his part and a special day for us, receiving this donation from the star athlete of the SEA Games on his 20th birthday.
"He's an outstanding role model in and outside the swimming pool."
In addition, the University of Texas student hopes to raise $50,000 for SPMF via online donation portal SimplyGiving.
The donation drive will be open till National Day, Aug 9, to coincide with Singapore's 50th birthday.
As of yesterday, the total amount raised stood at $27,850.
The biggest donor so far is Mr Balbeer Singh Mangat, who pledged $25,000 after seeing Schooling achieve his target of winning all his events.
Said Mr Balbeer, group chief executive officer of FTMSGlobal Academy: "Joseph Schooling's mindset and determination to generate donations for the ST School Pocket Money Fund motivated me to tie the donation to his success at the SEA Games.
"I hope other (athletes) will follow Joseph's initiative of helping others."
The public can make donations at www.simplygiving.com/josephschooling