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When James Yeo was 16, his mother was diagnosed with end-stage cancer.
The treatment was costly and little help was available at the time. To contribute to the family’s burgeoning expenses, the college student decided to take several part-time F&B jobs.
But juggling school, work and caring for his ailing mother soon became too much. Soon, Yeo dropped out of school.
And two and a half years later his mother died. “It was a dark period for me – extremely mentally exhausting. It felt endless to me,” Yeo recalled. “I was just 20 at the time.”
Raising money for needy patients
Yeo is one of 50 volunteer cyclists who took part in a six-day, 1,000km cross-border ride to raise money for underprivileged kidney patients.
Organized by the Kidney Dialysis Foundation (KDF), the ride is an annual event and is touted as one of the most challenging charity rides in Singapore.
During this year’s edition – the first since the start of the pandemic – the 50 cyclists rode more than 1,000 km from Penang to Singapore between October 26 and 31.
Through the states of Penang, Ipoh, Klang and Muar, cyclists traveled more than 12 hours a day, rain or shine.
In total, they raised more than S$450,000 – enough for more than 2,400 dialysis sessions.
The money will go towards providing subsidized dialysis and treatment to low-income, end-stage kidney patients.
Caring for the terminally ill
Yeo shared that he hopes to raise awareness about what it’s like to live and care for a terminally ill family member.
He called his own experience “mentally torturous” and said the family, overwhelmed by caring for his mother, were unable to deal with their own emotions.
“It was about making enough money to make ends meet, pay for mom’s medical expenses and live life day to day,” he shared.
“I missed parts of teenage life because of my family circumstances back then, and I don’t wish anyone was ever in my screenplay.”
The fundraiser is open until March 31, 2023.
Members of the public can donate to the cause here.
Top image courtesy of KDF.