What is it? . . . . . . . . . . something to do with Shoes? I bet the first word that come out of your mind is ADIDAS. And you are darn WRONG!
This is about two youths aged 22 & 19 from the Supported Living program for youths with learning disabilities under the umbrella of Dignity & Services (D&S).
For more info about D&S and the program, log on to http://dignityandservices.blogspot.com
Wai Keen & Qi Han have been attending the program for almost 3 years now while Effendi joined D&S as the program coordinator since early this year. When both of them were told that I'll be raising fund for D&S during the 2nd Putrajaya 12Hour International Walk, they both volunteer to take part in lending me the moral support. It is also part of their effort in giving back to the organisation. Effendi has been kind enough offering his time to keep both of them company by taking part as well tho' he has never been an athlete himself.
The society always perceived that persons with learning disabilities are a burden but they failed to understand that given the right guidance, opportunities couple with dedication, they can actually lead a normal life like any other people. Both had followed me and took part in some road races - Klava Relay, Pacemakers Network Track Meet, Kingston Charity Walk, Orange 11km run & JW Dignity Relay. Wai Keen also took part in the JW 21km Christmas Island Run in 2008. And they ran alongside ordinary people! (I have been a friend & volunteer of D&S since year 2002)
L-R : Wai Keen, Qi Han, Chanthiran (in Orange vest) and Effendi
So, when they were told about this 12Hour walk, without hesitation they both volunteer to be part of the event. They started training dilligently 2 months prior to race day.
They arrived at 7pm sharp at Putrajaya. I briefed them on the rules & regulations and off they go at 8.00pm sharp with the rest of the crowd of more than 650 walkers. As I have to complete a minimum of 45km in the fundraising challenge, I really have no time to waste & dare not even take a long break in the 1st half of the race.
I am truly proud with them. While many were quick to form a line for food, they both persevere & only stop when necessary for a quick bite or to rehydrate. Each time when I had the opportunity to pass them, I will asked if they are doing OK & how many laps they have done. Each time I received the same answer -
Don't worry, everything under control.
Its a small matter only.
26 laps..... not a problem lah . . . . .
Wow . . . . unbelievable. I didn't hear a single complain from them. By 6am I saw them at the baggage tent. Yeah . . . . . they are calling it a day. Mission accomplished! By now they are just too sleepy and needed their 'bed'.
So how do they performed?
Wai Keen - 28 Laps
Qi Han - 29 Laps
Effendi - 30 Laps
Qi Han will be leaving for Australia in late January 2010 to further his education while Wai Keen just completed his secondary education and taking on a new challenge in 2010.
Good Luck to both of you. I am confident that both of you will excel in your future undertakings and you will always have my support. Go forward & face the world with your head held high! I am proud of you both.
A Special dedication from Aunty Julie