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Dr William Wan, 73, tests his physical limits for a good cause

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The Straits Times

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SINGAPORE - On the afternoon of his 73rd birthday, Dr William Wan dropped to the floor to do 100 push-ups to raise funds for 70x7, an initiative by Prison Fellowship Singapore to help inmates and ex-offenders successfully reintegrate into society.

 

The 30-minute live challenge was hosted by veteran radio presenter Brian Richmond and the June 7 Facebook post garnered 246 shares and more than 8,500 views.

 

The fundraising challenge was a spin-off from a video that Dr Wan posted of himself doing 20 push-ups last month on Facebook. He had encouraged his friends to do at least five push-ups every day and add one more every alternate day.

 

 

Other fitness enthusiasts have also taken up similar social media fitness challenges during the circuit breaker period.

 

Dr Wan, who is the chairman of Prisoner Fellowship Singapore, has always been active.

 

He said: "I believe keeping fit is being kind to yourself and being cooped up at home may cause undue stress. I wanted to remind my friends to stay active during the circuit breaker period, which is why I started the push-up challenge."

 

The board members of Prisoner Fellowship Singapore saw his video and asked him if he could do 73 push-ups for a fund-raiser on his 73rd birthday.

 

They were inspired by a 99-year-old British man who raised $21 million for healthcare workers during the Covid-19 pandemic by walking 25m around his garden 100 times, using his walker for support.

 

Dr Wan, who is also the general secretary of the Singapore Kindness Movement, immediately agreed to take up the challenge.

 

Prison Fellowship Singapore launched a fund-raising campaign on crowdfunding platforms Give.asia and Giving.sg on May 31 to spread the word about the initiative, with the hope of raising $730,000.

 

Encouraged by the comments from his friends on the live video, Dr Wan decided to do 100 push-ups.

 

As at 1pm today on June 11, the campaign had raised $256,000. People can continue to donate on the platforms till June 30.

 

The Law Society of Singapore president Gregory Vijayendran, who watched the video and contributed to the cause, said: "Dr Wan has transformed his birthday celebration into a birthday blessing. The cause is one close to his heart: It is the redemptive journey of prisoners, ex-prisoners and their families."

 

Mr Vijayendran, 50, added that Dr Wan had "symbolically and powerfully restored hope and dignity to a group globally vulnerable to marginalisation and neglect at a time of pandemic" through the fund-raiser.

 

The donations will be used to meet the social and financial needs of ex-offenders and their families. These include putting together grocery packs for needy families and tuition assistance for children of families with an incarcerated parent.

 

Apart from reaping the physical benefits from exercise, Dr Wan said staying active also energises the mind and can create a ripple effect to spread positive energy to people. "When we feel energised and good about ourselves, we can do much more for others."

 

Besides push-ups, his exercise routine involves strength-building exercises with weights and cardio exercises on a stationary bike and rowing machine.

 

Dr Wan, who has three children in their 40s and four grandchildren, said: "The biggest danger for seniors is that we tend to trip and fall. With a stronger frame, less brittle bones and more muscular protection, we can survive falls much better. We are more agile and can break the fall, rather than the hip."

 

He added that seniors should not wait until they retire to start exercising. They could start by taking regular brisk walks and following suitable workout videos online.

 

"My advice is to take that first step by changing your mindset. Getting older is mandatory but getting frail before our time is not. Keeping fit is a lifestyle choice and we need to consciously choose to be active," he said.

 

 

Source: The Straits Times © Singapore Press Holdings Limited. Reproduced with permission.

 

 

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