Schoolings share Grab's $20,000 gift with blind masseur and Singapore para swimmer

Singapore para-swimmer Benson Tan (centre) with Colin and May Schooling, parents of Olympic gold medallist Joseph Schooling. PHOTO: MIMI TAN

SINGAPORE - Singapore swimmer Joseph Schooling and his family will share a $20,000 gift from ride-hailing service Grab with blind masseur Ismail Akbar Abdullah and Singapore para swimmer Benson Tan.

Grab had offered free rides to the Schoolings after Joseph's historic gold medal at the Rio de Janeiro Olympics last month.

Hafidz Ja'afar, who represents the Schooling family, said: "But we thought we should share it with people who need it more, and Joseph was really touched when he heard about Ismail's and Benson's stories."

Ershad Ahamed, Grab's head of marketing (Singapore), said: "We are very excited and proud of Joseph's achievements and even more so his decision to share our offer of $20,000 in ride sponsorship with others. We are fully supportive of his decision and look forward to serving Uncle Abdullah and Benson, and play a role in making their daily commute more fuss-free, convenient and comfortable."

Both Ismail and Tan will receive $7,300 worth of free rides each. The remainder will go to Joseph's parents, May and Colin.

Ismail, 62, commutes six days a week from his apartment at Spooner Road to his workplace at Block 539 in Bedok North. Each trip ranges from $14-$18, depending on surcharges.

He said: "I want to thank Joseph and I'm very happy he shared the gift with me. I followed his results closely, listening to the radio and news during the Olympics. He really did Singapore proud. "

National para swimmer Tan, who has attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, bagged three golds at last year's Asean Para Games. For four days a week, he has to travel from his home in Pasir Ris to Anglo-Chinese School (Barker Road) for swim training, and then to Kallang Wave Mall for work, where he is a part-time sales assistant. After work, he will head back to ACS (Barker Road) for training.

Tan's mother Mimi, 65, said: "We're really surprised and thankful that Joseph chose to share this with us. Usually Benson will take the bus and train, and I'm happy that he can now come home earlier for dinner. This will also give him more time to rest."

Joseph is a student at The University of Texas in Austin and competes in the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) swimming competition. NCAA rules on amateurism forbid athletes from accepting any financial assistance based on athletics skills or participation.

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