80% Deaf, But 100% Heart – This Skater Won’t Be Stopped

Fundraising for the SAFRA Wheels & Feet Charity Challenge is underway. Meet three men who are aiming to raise thousands of dollars for the less fortunate in Singapore.

By Sasha Gonzales        4 May 2022

Ron Tan is 80 per cent deaf, but he has not let his hearing impairment stop him from helping others, because he knows what it’s like to be faced with challenges and not have a lot of support.

At a young age, the music lover was told that he might never accomplish his dream of becoming a musician, but he followed his heart, taught himself to play the piano with the help of a hearing aid, and graduated from music school, surprising everyone, including those closest to him. Not long after, he performed his own composition at a piano concert he organised and received a standing ovation.

But he didn’t stop there. Eager to help other artists with disabilities, Ron founded Inclusive Arts Movement (I.AM) while studying for his polytechnic diploma. With this social enterprise, he aimed to give differently abled members income opportunities through the performing arts. So far, he and the artists he supports have performed at a number of concerts and festivals around the island.

The young social entrepreneur and changemaker has been recognised for his efforts. In 2013 he made the Top 10 of the Singapore International Foundation’s Young Social Entrepreneurs’ programme, and in 2018 he was nominated in the Hearts of Humanity (Care & Disabilities) category at the Singapore Silent Heroes Awards.

Now, Ron is creating a positive difference once again by pledging to raise $10,000 for the SAFRA Wheels & Feet Charity Challenge, as part of SAFRA Cares, a year-long campaign to help the less privileged.

The virtual event, which kicked off on 9 April and ends on 28 May 2022, will see about 2,000 participants run, walk, cycle or rollerblade, clocking 500,000km collectively over the 50 days. In total, they hope to raise $100,000 for beneficiaries of the President’s Challenge, including agencies under their Children, Youth & Family Services category. The money will be made up of participants’ registration fees, donations from Individual Runner and Team sub-campaigns, and sponsor and corporate donations.

Inspired to give back

Photos: Ron Tan

Ron, who is fundraising under the name RONTANZK, will be rollerblading – an activity he took up last year – and intends to cover a distance of 500km over the event period. He says that if he reaches his $10,000 target, he will rollerblade an additional 500km for another charity.

While Ron has already achieved much in his life, he knows that many others, especially those in need, cannot say the same. This is what made him decide to take part in the Challenge.

“It makes me happy to give back and to help those in our community who don’t have much,” he shares. “As someone who grew up feeling different from everyone else and facing separate challenges from most of my peers, I understand what it’s like to wish for a more supportive and inclusive society.”

Ron is an inspiration to many, but he says that he tries not to lose sight of the big picture, which is to create new experiences and happy memories, no matter what life throws at him.

“I’ve come up against many obstacles but I make it a point not to blame myself, and instead, try to learn from my experiences. I also like to remind myself that although things may be tough at times, there are always people who are doing much worse. There’s still a lot I’d like to achieve but I’m taking things one step at a time. I’ve realised that it’s the journey, and not the destination that counts, so my plan is to pave the way with plenty of positive lessons, experiences and memories that I can look back on someday and be proud of.”

Support and donate to Ron’s campaign at RONTANZK!

Supportive family and friends

Photos: Wong Shao Yong

Ron is not the only one hoping to raise enough money to make a difference in the lives of less fortunate Singaporeans. Wong Shao Yong, who is fundraising under the name DJWONGSY, pledged to bring in $1,000 in donations but he has already exceeded this amount, raising a total of $1,020 so far. He is not new to fundraising, having participated in donation drives when he was in school. For the SAFRA Wheels & Feet Charity Challenge, Shao Yong has signed up for the 500km and 50km Run/Walk events.

“Many people, including my college mates, family members and friends, donated to my campaign even before I started the events,” he says. “After I’ve completed the required distances, hopefully in the first two weeks of the Challenge, I may ask for more donations and attempt longer distances.”

Shao Yong doesn’t think that $1,000 is very much but he believes that every little bit counts towards improving the lives of Singaporeans who desperately need help. He is especially supportive of people with autism spectrum disorder and multiple disabilities.

Support and donate to Shao Yong’s campaign at DJWONGSY!

Cycling enthusiasts

Photos: Jonathan Wong

Another top fundraiser is 44-year-old Jonathan Wong, who has already exceeded his fundraising target of $2,500. He believes that his group, TEAM TOU.NAO.HUAI (made up of cycling enthusiasts from the IT voice industry and who range from 30 to 58 years old) will be able to raise more money before the deadline.

“We are constantly promoting this campaign and hope to double our original target,” he explains. “Our donors are our friends, customers and vendors who, like us, want to help the less fortunate. Looking at the list of benefitting agencies, it’s easy to see why we should all contribute what we can. If we don’t help our fellow Singaporeans in need, who will?”    

Support and donate to Jonathan’s campaign at TEAM TOU.NAO.HUAI!

The SAFRA Wheels & Feet Charity Challenge 2022 is now underway and if you’ve signed up, don’t forget to start clocking your distances! To find out more, go to www.safrawfcc.sg

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