Everyone has a story to tell, and challenges to conquer. When a person overcomes their own personal obstacles with strength of will, determination and tenacity, he or she tends to inspire others to rise to the occasion and contribute to a higher cause.
We take a look at some of Singapore’s local running heroes who motivate and encourage positive change in their own unique ways!
Run to Bond: Runninghour
Runninghour is a group of volunteers who promote integration of people with special needs in mainstream through running.
Chances for visually and intellectually challenged runners to integrate into mainstream society are limited, and Runninghour was set up to change that. Twice a week, able-bodied volunteers are buddied to a VCR (visually challenged runner) or ICR (intellectually challenged runner), and together, they run.
It has been 5 years since Runninghour started, and they are still going strong, with their runners having the chance to join in Singapore’s mainstream running events such as the Terry Fox Run and Jurong Lake Run!
To us, running might be an easy sport to pick up. But this is a wonderful chance for people with special needs to connect with others both emotionally and socially. For them, it is also a rare chance to experience the outdoors in a safe, fun, engaging and healthy way.
Props to the volunteers from Runninghour, who give their time and resources to help people with special needs realise their full potential!
Mr. and Mrs. Run the Town: Simon and Rachel
Simon and Rachel had a blissfully married life and successful careers, but things took a sharp nosedive when Rachel started to feel unwell in 2012.
Diagnosed with breast cancer, Rachel went through a gruelling 8-hour surgery, 16 cycles of chemotherapy and 25 sessions of radiotherapy. But with her strong resolve, and support from her husband, she pulled through.
Rachel’s husband, Simon, is a hero too. Standing by his wife’s side, Simon has been an implacable rock in her battle with cancer.
Rachel has to receive monthly medical treatments, and avoid putting on weight, or else the chances of a relapse will increase exponentially. With encouragement by Simon, they both took up running as a way to live a healthier lifestyle. From a sedentary lifestyle to completing her first 10km run in November 2013, Rachel ran her first half marathon at the 2XU Compression Run in March!
The couple has completed various runs since and each finisher medal that Rachel collects is evidence of her victorious battle against cancer!
Catwoman: Jenap Said
Mdm Jenap Said is an avid runner who has completed over 40 full marathons and 4 ultramarathons since 2006. She became a popular figure amongst runners when she starting wearing her signature “Catwoman” costume while running.
Mdm Said is always looking to for ways to give back to the community. Not content with completing a personal 12 hour overnight marathon and raising S$120,000 at the Yellow Ribbon Run in 2013, she recently doubled that momentous achievement in May, running for 24 hours straight as a Charity Ambassador for Run for Life.
By giving her best shot in whatever she does, Mdm Jenap Said motivates people to do their part for the less fortunate!
The Running Mummy: Shannon
Shannon was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis, a chronic neurological illness that causes extreme fatigue, along with motor and visual problems. These symptoms will persist and worsen with age.
But Shannon is fighting against fate. Taking up running has helped manage her MS symptoms, and the more she runs, the more she is able to embrace and co-exist with MS.
Even with her condition, the veterinarian continues to run, inspiring others and raising support for 3 beneficiaries: Singapore Cancer Society, Downs Syndrome Association of Singapore, and Three Legs Good, a local animal welfare group dedicated to raising funds for injured and disabled dogs.
Ah Siao: Gerrard
Gerrard first garnered attention when he ran the Sundown Marathon in 2012, while dragging a 14kg tire for the entire 42.195km distance.
Living up to his moniker (which means “the Crazy One”) in a positive way, Gerrard went one step further and ran 31 marathons in 31 consecutive days for a good cause. That’s around 1,308km – all to raise funds to raise awareness and support for the Bone Marrow Donor Programme (BMDP). That’s a truly remarkable feat that was entered in the Singapore Book of Records!
Maintaining an active social media profile, he is currently training for a top 10 finish at the upcoming Standard Chartered Marathon, and continues to inspire people to support the Bone Marrow Donor Programme.
1 Arm Runner: Adam
In 2003, Adam crashed his motorcycle in a horrific accident that left his right arm amputated, and his left arm paralysed.
In spite of such extreme trauma, Adam had the will to survive and recover. At the suggestion of his doctor, he started running in a bid to raise his body’s endurance and stamina. His first competitive event was the Swissotel Vertical Marathon in 2008, and he was astounded to discover that he was the first disabled participant to compete and complete the course, coming in 76th position out of 297 participants!
Hope and determination always finds a way. A ground-breaking contralateral operation that involved implanting the existing good nerves in his right stump into his left arm was performed in 2009, restoring minimal movement in his left arm.
Now, he is running to save himself – literally. An operation scheduled in 2016 will harvest muscles from his thighs and be transplanted into his left arm in a bid to regain even more function and strength. The stronger and healthier Adam is, the better shape he will be in to recover from this demanding surgery.
Adam is currently training for his 6th Standard Chartered Marathon and the Australian Ironman 2015. Always one to push himself further, Adam hopes to end his athletic career with a bang at the first-ever Paratriathlon at the 2016 Paralympics in Brazil.
SG Blade Runner: Mohd Shariff
Mr Mohd Shariff was born without a left foot, but that didn’t stop him from being an active sportsman. During his school days in the ’70s and ’80s, he participated in various sports such as bodybuilding, trekking and kayaking. But Shariff was inspired by the South African double amputee sprint runner, Oscar Pistorius and his distinctive ‘blade’ prosthetics, and started running seriously in 2009.
Taking part in dozens of marathons is not enough for this professional athlete and motivational speaker. Shariff aims to celebrate Singapore’s 50th birthday in 2015 by running in the Tenzig-Hillary Everest Marathon.
Requiring all participants to be in Nepal 3 weeks before the race in order to acclimatise to the high altitude, the Tenzig-Hillary Everest Marathon includes a supervised 14 day trek to the marathon starting point. The marathon itself starts at Everest Base Camp (5,364m/17,598ft) and finishes at Namche Bazaar (3,446m/1,1306ft), with snow, ice and exposure to the harsh elements at every step of the mountain trail.
What a goal for someone who never let his limitations stop him from realising his true potential!
For every inspirational figure, there are an untold number of silent supporters. Whether you are joining up in teams and raising funds for charity in the Ekiden team relay at the upcoming Standard Chartered Marathon, or simply supporting charity driven runs, you are making an active contribution to a better cause!
If We Combine Our Efforts, We Can Change Lives!
These inspirational people show that giving back to society has its own rewards. By going a little out of the way, we can give so much to the needy and those who need help. By raising S$600,000 in Run For Life, and S$1 million in the SingTel Race Against Cancer, the running community in Singapore is one of the biggest contributors to charity!
Let’s help the needy by continuing to support charitable causes in Singapore. If you see any these local running heroes in a race, acknowledge your support by giving them a smile and a wave (they need encouragement too!). Take part in upcoming charity driven runs like the Singapore Airlines Charity Run and Run For Hope, or you can donate or volunteer in a charity of your choice!