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Otterman speaks...

Cycling, macintosh, natural history and life in Singapore - Archives

List of Categories : travel * museum * cycling * Singapore Naturalist * science * kakis * mangroves * movies * mac and the internet * meow * NUS * life in Singapore * lit * world *

Sat 25 Jun 2005

William Tan auctions marathon medals for elderly patients

Category : cycling

"Marathon man to auction off medals." By Chai Hung Yin. Th Straits Times, 25 June 2005.

Dr William Tan, the first wheelchair-bound individual in the world to complete 10 marathons in seven continents in 70 days, will auction off the 10 medals he won.

He hopes to raise at least $188,888, which will be donated to two charities in Geylang and Toa Payoh offering medical and mental care for poor elderly patients, and which are facing financial difficulties.

'When the idea flashed through my mind, I was reluctant to part with my medals because taking part in the races was dangerous,' he said.

'I had my racing wheelchair sink two feet into the mud, and my right hand almost crushed.'

The medals also represent four hours of training - two in the gym, two on the road - he put in every day for weeks on end, and the months of unpaid leave the neuroscientist took.

As part of his preparations, he trained in mountains in Australia to get acclimatised to a minus 4 deg C environment for the marathon in Antarctica and to increase his body's capacity to store oxygen.

On top of that and other sacrifices, said the 48-year-old, the feat burnt an $83,000 hole in his pocket.

'I wrote to 26 organisations for funds, but all turned me down. Fortunately, four organisations - the Singapore Sports Council, National University of Singapore, DBS and Singapore Pools - came forward with a grant to cover some of my expenses.

'Still, most of it came from my own pocket,' he said, declining to reveal the amount of the grant.

His medal donation is a tribute to senior citizens and to his father, who died of lung cancer in 2000.

'His condition helped me to focus on the needy elderly and widened my horizon to contribute,' said Dr Tan, who has raised more than $14 million in the past 18 years for other charities.

He is constantly reminded of the needs of the elderly by his frail 79-year-old mother, added Dr Tan, who was stricken with polio when he was two and cannot run or walk.

Anyone who wants to make a bid for Dr Tan's framed medal collection should call Dr Stephanie Chee on 9746-4890 or Miss Lim Sheh Lin on 9663-8627, or e-mail phfgl@singnet.com.sg, before July 26.

Offers should start at $83,000.

The successful bidder will also receive Dr Tan's autograph and photographs of his efforts in the marathons. Twice the amount of the successful bid, as well as donations made by others, will be tax-exempt.

The collection will be presented in a special ceremony at the end of next month.

Copyright 2005 Singapore Press Holdings. All rights reserved.

Posted at 3:27PM UTC by N. Sivasothi | permalink | , .