DUBBED a ‘crazy’ man, Pastor Cheah Chee Moon will attempt another ‘Rickshaw Charity Ride’ – this time on a 400km journey over nine days from Penang to Kuala Lumpur.
He wants to help raise funds for Eden Handicap Service Centre (Penang) and Dual Blessing Bhd by pulling a rickshaw from Kompleks Masyarakat Penyayang, Jalan Utama in Penang on June 29 at 8am to Dual Blessing Centre in Jalan Hujan Emas in Taman Overseas Union in Kuala Lumpur. He is expected to reach Kuala Lumpur on July 7.
The fund-raising duration, however, is from May 1 to Aug 1. Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow, who is the guest of honour for the charity event themed ‘Journey of Love – Rickshaw Charity Ride’ – has started the ball rolling by generously contributing RM10,000.
Eden Handicap Service Centre general manager Bertie Tye told reporters that while they targeted to raise RM1 million, whatever donation collected would be shared equally by both Eden centre and Dual Blessing.
Also present were the Eden centre’s manager (rehabilitation/vocational) S.K. Lee, administrator Madelene Tan, coordinator Derrick Cheah, and Dual Blessing chief executive officer Low Khee Lian and general manager Jason Chua.
The first time the Penang-born Cheah pulled a rickshaw for charity was more arduous, covering 3,000km from Johor Baru to Chiang Rai, Thailand, to raise funds for five orphanages in Malaysia and Thailand last July. It took him a total of 75 days, a feat never before achieved by anybody.
The beneficiaries were the Agape Children Home which he runs with his Thai wife in Chiang Rai, the Good Samaritan Home in Kluang, Precious Gift Home in Ipoh, Berkat Children Home and Cheng En Charity Association in Johor Baru.
In 2016, Cheah rode a penny-farthing, a bicycle with a large front wheel in front and a small rear wheel, to raise funds for Agape Children Home.
Cheah, 60, has done eight charity runs so far in Malaysia, either via running, riding a bicycle or trishaw, since he started 20 years ago.
Asked why he is still taking up such demanding feats, Cheah said he has a few main reasons.
“In this modern world, there are people who raise funds for own self. They like to cheat via telephone or computer. When it comes to very challenging tasks, few humans want to be involved. Conmen don’t like to go for challenging tasks like endurance runs.
“When you do easy things, you won’t touch people’s hearts to help old people or underprivileged children. Life is very short. While we can, do something.
“I also have a message for people when I undertake this kind of activity. So many out there tend to overeat and do not exercise. I want to prove to them that exercise works,” he said.
Cheah’s strategy is to pull the rickshaw for 50km each day for the first few days and subsequently increase the distance to between 55km and 60km per day.
This is indeed incredible. A marathoner normally takes three days to recover after a 42km run whereas Cheah would be doing more than a marathon day after day. Furthermore, the rickshaw, which is made of steel, weighs 65kg. Loaded with other contents like his luggage and containers of water, it may weigh over 100kg.
“The hot weather can be killing. Sometimes, my mind tells me to stop but my heart tells me to keep going. Normally I choose to listen to my heart. I look at my objective, think of the disabled people and focus on them. That keeps me going,” he said.
His most memorable moment came in the 2018 Johor Baru-Chiang Rai rickshaw charity. An old woman came up to him when she learned that he had reached Melaka and donated a couple of RM20 notes into the donation box. Some distance away, she met Cheah again and dropped more money into the box.
“From the worn-out helmet she was wearing and the bags of recyclable plastics that she had collected, I know her condition. But she gave from her heart when she read from the newspapers what I was doing. I was deeply moved. The aunty contributed probably RM400 to RM500.
“In another case, a man in a posh car donated RM5 and he wanted a receipt.”
Cheah also finds the ‘kampung’ Malays very friendly and charitable. He said although they did not have much, they gave him a lot of durians so much so his rickshaw was full of them.
Not to be disrespectful, he said he accepted them but later, he had to give them away to some Bangladeshi workers by the roadside as the rickshaw was too heavy for him to pull.
Cheah will usually sleep at petrol station, bus stop, park or anywhere that he can find a place to wash up himself. He needs seven hours of sleep so that he can continue his journey.
Cheah also recalled the most frightening moment of his life when he once encountered a python on the road, quickly abandoned his rickshaw and bolted in fear.
After the Penang-KL rickshaw charity ride for people with disabilities, Cheah said he would be doing another charity event from Kuching, Sarawak, to Kota Kinabalu, Sabah.
Such is his popularity that he has invitations (to do charity) coming from Vietnam, Cambodia and Indonesia.
Tye said the monthly expenses for Eden centre is RM90,000 while Low said Dual Blessing needs about RM130,000 per month. Eden has 160 members, including 50 residents, while Dual Blessing has 108 members from its Kuala Lumpur HQ, Johor branch and Butterworth branch.
Those interested to contribute to the charity event can issue a cheque made payable to Eden Handicap Service Centre Berhad, Bank A/C No: CIMB Bank Berhad, 8003857542 and write ‘Rickshaw’ on the back of the cheque. If made via online, also type ‘Rickshaw’ as the reason for donating.
Further details on sponsorship are obtainable from either Madelene Tan (013-488 1954) or Ms Low (016-210 2012).
Story by K.H. Ong
Pix by Law Suun Ting