Pedalling for hope
A 2,000-km charity ride through China, led by Shangri-La hotels and volunteers, aims to raise funds for good causes across the mainland
Ride for Hope, the charity bicycle ride organised by Futian Shangri-La, Shenzhen pedalled off on November 16 with riders going on a 2,000-kilometre, three-week journey from Shenzhen to Shanghai.
Proceeds from the event will fund three beneficiaries – a group of villagers living in the Guangxi Autonomous Region, the Shenzhen Blue Ocean Conservation Association and the Shanghai-based Will Foundation, which provides orphans with a nurturing environment at an eco-learning centre via a tailored guided programme.
Cyclists joining the event, including Shangri-La hotels staff, donate a fee of 200 yuan (about HK$255) per adult or 100 yuan per child. The official shirt for the activity is 500 yuan each. All entry fees, shirt revenue and voluntary donations collected along the ride will go to the beneficiaries.
Nicholas Smith, resident manager of Futian Shangri-La, Shenzhen and initiator of the event, says the aim is to raise 200,000 yuan. “I want to show how simple exercise and taking part in a group activity will change the lives of others for years to come. For the past two months, I have been cycling a minimum of 250 km a week to condition my legs for the ride,” he says.
Thomas Bird, a British freelance writer, signed up for the event for the sake of charity and also to show support for a pal. “[Smith] is a friend of mine. We both hail from Wales. When he told me about the project, I simply leapt at the chance to participate. Travel is a passion of mine by any means other than car or plane, which are both dull and polluting. Bicycles are the answer to many of humanities challenges as they offer a great means of exercise and don’t consume fossil fuels. Hopefully, cycling between the two ostensibly commercial cities of Shenzhen and Shanghai, we’ll be able to show that the people with the most ‘face’ ride on two wheels,” he says.
Li Xiaobao, a Guangxi native who once cycled 2,600 km from Yunnan to Lhasa, is taking part because the ride is for environmental protection and charity. “I am an animal protection volunteer and support all environmental protection and charity activities. To meet like-minded friends and kind-hearted people is a great experience.”
Lu Baokang, who ranked 10th out of 500 racers in the most recent tournament in Beihai City, says the ride is a meaningful event. “I love cycling and it will be one of the happiest events in my life, because I am able to help others through cycling. I am expecting lots of fun and wonderful memories during the journey with other riders,” he says.
Smith says CSR work is an ongoing, long-term commitment by Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts. “At Shangri-La, whatever we do is for the long term. We wanted to ensure that Ride for Hope is not a one-off event but that it can make a difference in the key sites of our departure (Shenzhen) and arrival (Shanghai). Donations are only the starting point. Being able to build on them over time is what counts,” Smith says.
The Guangxi project is a new and exciting episode for the hotel. “About 60 per cent of the money raised via this activity will go to support the villagers in Guangxi. A group of villagers – around 20 families – has just moved from the mountains to live in a small village in the region,” says Smith.
“They used to obtain precious water from the stone caves during the rainy season. Having lost their only access to water, the villagers urgently need to build water cellars to store water during the rainy season. Each water cellar costs 6,000 yuan and the Shangri-La hotels are aiming to raise 120,000 yuan to build 20 cellars,” he adds.
Yang Ke, a volunteer helping the villagers, says they are delighted help is on the way. “When you see it is so difficult for the villagers to get water, when you see elderly and children having to walk a long mountain road to get water, you will help them and I’m confident Shangri-La hotels can collect enough money to build the cellars,” he says.
The organisers of Shenzhen Blue Ocean Conservation Association believe that Shangri-La’s initiatives demonstrate its social responsibility and commitment to sustainable development. They hope Ride for Hope will raise awareness of green living and environmental protection as the riders travel through various cities on the way.
Meanwhile, the Will Foundation sees Ride for Hope as a perfect example of how CSR primary goals should be realised. “It is an event where all the stakeholders are called to action. It raises awareness among the people involved, helping them to understand and feel the needs of disadvantaged children and to sustain our eco-learning centre to create a better future for our kids,” says a spokesman.
Shangri-La’s CSR efforts have earned wide recognition, says Emil Leung, area manager and GM of Futian Shangri-La, Shenzhen. The group strives to be a leader in sustainable operations and has been listed on the Hang Seng Sustainability Index since 2011. This year, it was made a constituent of the Dow Jones Sustainability Index.
TO HELP OTHERS IS TO HELP YOURSELF
Drumming up support “Ride for Hope was initiated to raise money for people in need. Only with the support and assistance from Shangri-La hotels and sponsors are we able to undertake this cycling challenge and execute it on such a scale,” says Emil Leung, area manager and general manager of Futian Shangri-La, Shenzhen.
Going a long way “Not all people are lucky enough to enjoy good drinking water, good living conditions or have the opportunity to have a good environment around them. We are hoping to demonstrate that one small act can go a long way, and that riding can provide hope for all those less well off,” says Nicholas Smith, resident manager of Futian Shangri-La, Shenzhen and initiator Ride for Hope.
Helping ourselves “I believe that many people are willing to give a hand to those in need. To help others in need is to help yourself,” says rider Lu Baokang, who ranked 10th out of 500 racers in the most recent tournament in Beihai City.