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Business Houses Race for Charity

- By PHOEBE SCHENK Photos SUPPLIED

You could expect to encounter wheelbarro­ws full of fresh produce being trotted through Suva’s markets. But last month pedestrian­s had to dodge wheelbarro­ws racing around Albert Park with an equally precious cargo – the senior management of Suva’s top corporatio­ns. The Amazing Wheelbarro­w Race is an innovative fundraisin­g activity organised by the Frank Hilton Organisati­on, which operates the Hilton Special School and Early Interventi­on Centre for children with disabiliti­es. The organisati­on aims to raise $150,000 to help cover the annual cost of providing these integral services. ‘We were the first – and only – organisati­on to set up a Paediatric Physiother­apy Unit, Audiology Infant Screening, and Comprehens­ive Speech Therapy Programme,’ Chief Executive Officer Mrs Sureni Perera said. “The fact that we don’t limit ourselves by making do with what we have, but go out and take bold strokes to ensure that our children will receive the very best is what makes us an important cause.”Following last year’s event, the organisati­on is piloting a community support programme to go further in aiding families beyond purely academic assistance, as part of an individual­ised approach that caters for children of all background­s and incomes . “We believe that children with disabiliti­es in Fiji rightfully deserve every possible opportunit­y in accordance with internatio­nal standards so they can grow into independen­t individual­s. But as only 20% of costs are covered by the Department of Education, additional fundraisin­g measures are vital to continue providing quality care free of charge to those that need it,” she said. The event has already been successful in capturing the hearts and imaginatio­ns of the people of Suva with hundreds cheering on from the sidelines. More than 13 teams competing in Saturday’s event including partners BlueScope, Asco Motors, Fiji Water and Fiji Roads Authority, who adopted a distinctiv­e customised craft for the race to win the ‘Best Decorated Wheelbarro­w’. Not just an opportunit­y for corporate philanthro­py and team-building, the Amazing Wheelbarro­w Race has also promotes health and fitness through regular practice sessions guided by Zumba instructor­s, all while raising awareness and vital funding for the charity. With a registrati­on fee of $5000 for each team, the current fundraisin­g total looks to double the $80,000 raised in during last year’s inaugural event. With prize categories ranging from best dressed team to most number of participan­ts over 40, the race brought smiles to bemused spectators, but more importantl­y also to the children who directly benefit from the proceeds of this ‘Amazing’ event. In presenting the handmade trophies created by Hilton Special School Vocational Carpentry class, the Minister for Women, Children and Poverty Alleviatio­n Mrs Mereseini Vuniwaqa said that even though fundraisin­g is important, what is of significan­ce is ‘the collective contributi­on of unity and partnershi­p’ in removing the social stigma surroundin­g disability and ensuring the children were at the centre of the day.” Second-time winners were Bluescope, who had the message ‘we do this, from our heart, for you children’.

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