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Operation Santa Claus

Annual Hong Kong charity run raises money and health awareness

More than 100 participants from life insurance company finish over 500 laps

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 17 December, 2016, 7:54pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 17 December, 2016, 10:03pm

More than 100 runners from a life insurance company have worked up a sweat to raise money for local charitable causes.

Staff members from the AIA Group joined their annual sponsored run at Happy Valley racecourse in aid of Operation Santa Claus (OSC), a festive charity campaign held by the South China Morning Post and RTHK.

The would-be athletes completed a total of about 501 laps of the 1,370m track situated next to the horse racing course, with individual runners finishing a maximum of 10 laps each.

Gerry Schipper, group head of internal audit, said the event helped to promote fitness at the company as well as raise money for good causes.

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“There is a strong focus on health at AIA,” he said. “We are trying to help people lead healthier lives.”

Last year the AIA run raised more than HK$200,000 for OSC, with the company matching every dollar donated up to HK$100,000.

This year OSC is supporting 23 local charities in the city. Since it was founded in 1988, OSC has raised more than HK$250 million for about 230 charitable projects.

It is very sad that there is a wealth gap everywhere in the world, but particularly in a place like Hong Kong
Gerry Schipper, AIA Group

Schipper, a father of two, said he felt particularly connected to OSC’s youth charities, which include Benji’s Centre, a support service for children with speech difficulties.

“It is very sad that there is a wealth gap everywhere in the world, but particularly in a place like Hong Kong,” he said.

“Particularly with young children it is important to make them aware of that. Schools here are good at introducing children to what charities are doing, and my girls have been involved in that.”

Event participants were encouraged to set their own distance targets for the event, staged on December 9.

Compliance officer HL Wat said he completed 20 laps in last year’s event but had reduced his goal this year to five as he was still resting following a marathon in Okinawa, Japan.

“It is great because we’ve come here to promote a healthy lifestyle and at the same time we are raising money to help others,” the Hong Kong native said. “It is a win-win situation.”

The company’s staff are no strangers to charity running events. They recently formed 29 teams for the 100km Oxfam Trailwalker race.

AIA Group, Asia’s third-largest insurer by market value, said it expected to see robust growth from the mainland and Hong Kong markets in coming years, fuelled by rising affluence in the country’s middle class.