200 make a cool start to weekend for charity
A group of colleagues yesterday came together to take part in the city's biggest Ice Bucket Challenge yet, as 200 people doused themselves in iced water to help take donations for local motor neurone disease patients to HK$23 million.
Calling themselves the MF Group, the 200 insurance company workers - they declined to name their employer - gathered in King George V Memorial Park, Kowloon, to take part in the charity event that has become an international sensation.
"We hope this event can inspire other groups and organisations and bring this meaningful challenge from an individual scale to a larger collective one, in order to more effectively help out the sick," said Francis Wong Yau-shing, who founded the group with colleague Lai Tat-ming.
The group had previously come together to hand out goodie bags to needy elderly people, and is planning more charity events.
The challenge originated in the United States and has become a hit around the world. The idea is that the "frozen" sensation of icy water simulates the state of immobility patients with motor neurone disease, also known as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, endure.
Most participants donate money and encourage three others to take part, and videos of celebrity participants - from Taylor Swift to Andy Lau Tak-wah - have helped get the message through about the incurable condition.
As well as raising awareness of motor neurone disease, the group made a HK$100,000 donation to the Hong Kong Neuro-Muscular Disease Association. The association has now raised HK$23 million in 11 days as the challenge caught on. Its total income last year was just HK$1.6 million, of which HK$180,000 came from donations.
Its vice-president, Danny Yan Chun-kit, made a two-hour journey in his wheelchair to support the MF Group's event in Jordan and to thank the organisers for their support.
Now Yan wants to see the government do more to help the roughly 300 people in Hong Kong with motor neurone disease, which causes a victim's muscles to weaken, leading to difficulties in moving, speaking, swallowing and even breathing.
"The government only knows that we are in wheelchairs, but they neglect our need for breathing apparatus, electronic equipment, and other life-supporting devices," Yan said. "Westerners have shown concern over our disease, and so have Hong Kong people. But why doesn't the government show their concern?"