Business Houses Race for Charity
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’.