Saigon Cyclo race wheels in $60,000 for charity
The Sai Gon Children's Charity's seventh annual Sai Gon Cycle Challenge was the largest ever as over 3,000 people watched nearly 50 company teams compete at the Sai Gon South Roller Skating Rink last Saturday.
The charity estimated that it raised more than US$60,000 - 10% of its expected annual income - through over 90 sponsors. The money will go towards building new schools, developing a recently established school for the deaf, granting scholarships, providing vocational training and offering microfinance options for the rural poor.
The internationally corporate-sponsored event reflected the growing commitment of the business and local community to participate in large non-profit charity events that rely on co-operation and volunteer work. The crowd was the kind of mix becoming more common in Vietnam, a mix of both foreigners and Vietnamese, both executives and entry-level employees.
The company teams, made up of employees from the local and foreign businesses in Vietnam, raced in five-relay heats that required teamwork to overcome various off-track physical challenges and obstacle courses.
An additional heat was run, with real-life cyclo drivers representing the teams. The race brought together two very different Vietnam's as CEOs drove cyclos and real cyclo drivers became corporate advertisers.
The first and second place winners of each race then competed in the final Grand Prize Race. The Duxton Hotel team won first place for the second year in a row while Adidas Team 3 took second place and The Canadian Chamber of Commerce (Cancham) came in third.
In addition to the races, a Grand Sponsors Parade provided the event's largest sponsors the opportunity to put on a show with marching bands, cheer-leaders, costumed dancers, decorated cyclos, banners and floats.
HSBC went all out to win the Best Cheerleading prize with its carnival-esque outfit of fire jugglers on unicycles and exotic dancing girls.
Smiles abounded and the day went off without a hitch as everyone, even the usually stressed out organisers, had a blast. "This is the first time I've really been able to completely enjoy the whole event," said Director of the Sai Gon Children's Charity Paul Cleves, who has also chaired the event for five years.
"We've had hassles in the past but there we haven't had any problems this year. This is a really really good time. Brilliant."
Although there were some near spills on the rickety cyclos, the first aid booth was quiet and the event was an enjoyable success.
(Source: Viet Nam News)
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