Chinachem Group Fully Supports Urban Climb 300M+ Wheelchair-bound Athlete Completes Nina Tower Charity Climbing Challenge
With staunch support from Chinachem Group, paraplegic climber Lai Chi-wai used only his arms and cast-iron will last Saturday (16 Jan) to take on the Urban Climb 300M+ challenge of climbing Nina Tower, the Group’s landmark headquarters in Tsuen Wan and the tallest building in the New Territories. Because of strong winds, Lai had to abort the climb after reaching a height of around 250 metres – but despite his missing the summit target, the challenge has made Lai the world’s first para-athlete to climb a skyscraper. Through the event, he hopes to encourage Hong Kong people to keep up their spirits in the face of adversity, and show that perseverance can overcome difficulties.
The challenge for charity, Urban Climb 300M+, was organised by Ignite Community Services with Chinachem Group as the lead partner. The Group will match donations from the event to the “Get up and Walk” programme of the Department of Orthopaedics and Traumatology in the LKS Faculty of Medicine at The University of Hong Kong (HKUMed). The funds raised will be used to support HKUMed’s exoskeleton rehabilitation scheme, clinical services and research work that helps the rehab of patients with spinal cord injuries and loss of mobility. Apart from providing logistical support, the Group expects to contribute up to HK$3 million to the campaign through matching donations. It has also engaged its staff members and business partners in the fund-raising initiative. Members of the public are encouraged to get involved by making donations by 6 February. As of 18 January, contributions from the public sector had exceeded HK$2.8 million. With the Group’s matching donations, this means the funds raised have reached around $5.7 million.
An Extraordinary Skyscraper Climb – over 250 m in 10 hours
The challenge commenced at 10:00 am last Saturday morning when Lai Chi-wai started climbing in his wheelchair linked to a special roping system, attempting to reach the top of Nina Tower (320-metres), the tallest building in the New Territories and the sixth tallest in Hong Kong. He used only the strength of his arms and upper body to lift himself up. It was a serious physical and mental challenge, complicated by lingering in the air for long hours. Crucial moments of the climb were live-streamed on social media, attracting many people to send Lai words of encouragement.
After more than 10 hours of climbing, Lai finished his challenge by reaching a height of around 250 metres.
Chinachem Group Executive Director and CEO Donald Choi and Executive Director and COO Hung-Han Wong were waiting on the rooftop to greet Lai, along with HKUMed’s Chair Professor and Head of Department of Orthopaedics & Traumatology Professor Kenneth Cheung and Honorary Clinical Assistant Professor Dr Paul Aarne Koljonen.
“Never Give Up; You’ll Get Through it with Faith”
Donald Choi remarked: “Lai’s determination symbolises the spirit of Hong Kong. The Group, together with Lai, hopes to convey a message through this event that Hong Kong people can brave difficulties as long as we embrace perseverance, diversity, inclusiveness and unity.” He reiterated that the Group, after its rebranding in December last year, was dedicated to creating “Places with Heart” as well as creating social value through its core business and projects, with an aim to promote a more inclusive environment for people with disabilities as well as other citizens of all ages, and to help disadvantaged communities improve their lives.
The winds grew stronger as night fell. Lai struggled with the twists and tangles of the climbing ropes for an hour, which restrained him from moving up further. He was also concerned about rapidly losing body heat while exposed to the dropping temperatures. In view of safety concern and with Lai’s consent, the organiser decided to halt the challenge when Lai reached around 250 metres. Despite failing to summit Nina Tower, Lai has undoubtedly achieved a new height in his life. His perseverance and will power have touched people’s hearts.
Lai confessed his “regret” about missing the target, noting that ageing and physical decline would make it more difficult for him to make another attempt at climbing a skyscraper. Nevertheless he hopes to encourage others, saying “dare to dream; dare to challenge. Keep it up even though you have nothing left but your hands”.
Appeal for Public Donations in Support of Spinal Injury Patients
Lai said skyscraper climbing was far more challenging than his earlier Lion Rock climb in terms of difficulty and height, but the overview of Tsuen Wan district from the air made him feel good. He admitted that he was initially frustrated by his loss of mobility after the car accident that left him without the use of his legs, but he is grateful for the support of many medical professionals who have enabled him to stand up and walk again with exoskeletons. Lai appealed for public donations to the event, which would make a valuable difference to spinal cord injury patients in Hong Kong as well as others with mobility issues.
Dr Paul Koljonen, in-charge of the “Get Up and Walk” programme at HKUMed, thanked Lai, Ignite Community Services and Chinachem Group for raising funds in support of the programme. He said spinal cord injury not only impacted the patients, but also affected their whole family. According to HKUMed figures, about 200 new cases of spinal cord injury are recorded every year. These numbers do not include non-invasive cases such as spinal tumours or infection. It takes a very long time for someone who has lost mobility to recover from the physical and mental trauma; however, thanks to the introduction of exoskeletons, patients can rebuild their muscles and nerves as well as alleviate complications in a more effective way than through conventional rehabilitation and treatment.
Donation page: www.sci.ortho.hku.hk/urban-climb-300
Watch event highlights: https://www.facebook.com/chinacheminfo
Chinachem Group Executive Director and CEO Donald Choi says the Group, together with Lai Chi-wai, hopes to convey a message through the Urban Climb 300M+ that Hong Kong people can brave difficulties as long as we embrace perseverance, diversity, inclusiveness and unity.
Chinachem Group Executive Director & CEO Donald Choi and Executive Director & COO Hung-Han Wong wish Lai Chi-wai the best of luck before Lai starts his challenge of climbing Nina Tower.
Chinachem Group Executive Director & CEO Donald Choi, joined by HKUMed’s Chair Professor and Head of Department of Orthopaedics & Traumatology Professor Kenneth Cheung, greet Lai Chi-wai on the rooftop of Nina Tower.