Thursday, April 15, 2010

DEE Man on a Mission

An American man's footrace across the Atacama Desert from Peru to Chile paves the way for 50 Singaporean athletes to head to Athens, Greece to compete in the Special Olympics World Summer Games in 2011!

Defining human spirit and endurance, denying the difference in cultures and what would have been in the name of national interest and designating his race as a cause worth investing in simply blows your mind. These are moments when you see love lived out and hearts and hands opened, just because someone had put his foot forward. And so began a 250-kilometre adventure across six days over rough undulating terrain in the South American desert, where temperatures soared to 46 degree Celsius. His feet and feat have raised $300,000 from donors all around the world. The beneficiary - Special Olympics Singapore athletes.

This is the story of Michael Dee.

(above: Michael Dee, David Rutherford - MD of Special Olympics Asia Pacific, Dr Teo-Koh Sock Miang - President of Special Olympics Singapore)

Michael who recently resigned as senior managing director of Temasek Holdings had previously worked with Morgan Stanley for more than a quarter of a century. Despite the high-level corporate life he led, charitable causes was never far from his mind. In fact, Michael is a founding board member of Make-A-Wish Foundation Singapore - a charity that grants wishes to children with life-threatening medical conditions. Incidentally, he'd literally put his feet to work for them by climbing Mt Kilamanjaro.

But why his choice to benefit the Special Olympics team most recently? Let's put it this way...If anyone could comprehend and appreciate the challenges (and promises) of one with intellectual disabilities, Michael could. His younger sister Anne, who's in her forties, has Down Syndrome. But what a remarkable difference Special Olympics had made to her life and he knows it can do the same for many more like her here in Singapore.

With the concern for funding out of the way, our athletes who'll be flying the Singapore flag next year can now direct all their focus and attention on training for the international competition. That's according to Dr Teo-Koh Sock Miang, President of Special Olympics Singapore. The funds are there and the flight is waiting.

It became apparent to Pam that if Michael's feet could do so much, what larger good could ours do beyond walking or running for fitness' sake? May this thought challenge you. Perhaps it's time to get your feet wet for a good cause. I'm feeling itchy already since my last run for a cause last November.

Speaking of a good cause, Special Olympics Singapore will be holding its flag day on Saturday, 1st May 2010. To lend a hand as a volunteer for the day, please make contact with them. Open your heart that day if you meet a volunteer. Financial contributions will continue to benefit the athletes in their training and development programmes and in support of financing other smaller scale tournaments throughout the year.

We like how Michael used the word 'investor' when speaking of those who gave towards the cause. He wasn't for the term 'donor' because the gesture of giving was really an investment into people's lives. Nice.

Retrace Michael's adventure and read the letters Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and President S.R. Nathan sent Michael here.

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