Since then, Lai who has been using a wheelchair, has walked out of the trough of life with a strong will. In 2016, with the assistance of a team of volunteers, he climbed to the top of the Lion Rock in a wheelchair, using a rope to realise his dream. That day was also the fifth anniversary of the traffic accident. His story was filmed into a documentary called CRUX. His dramatic life was made into a movie called Lion Rock. The unprecedented climb of Nina Tower will also be featured in a documentary called Never Settle.
In January, Lai Chi-wai took on the challenge of climbing Nina Tower, Tsuen Wan’s landmark building. In his eyes, the 300-odd metre Nina Tower is more than a building composed of concrete and glass. Lai, co-founder of Ignite Community Services and the climber, compares climbing the tower to “playing on a pirate ship” over 70 storeys above the ground, recalling it as an exciting experience that lasts a lifetime.
Relying on the strength of his hands and putting his faith in a specially designed rope system that bore his 150-pounds as well as the weight of his wheelchair, Lai pulled himself slowly up the tower. Sometimes he swayed in gusty winds and the ropes tangled easily. “It was like twisting a towel,” he said. “I was stuck in the middle of nowhere. I couldn’t get up or down.” As his wheelchair was tossed against the building by the wind, Lai continued to look up to the highest point of the tower. Throughout his epic climb, sweat and tears streamed down his face, while behind him the bustle of the cityscape rumbled on.
The HKU “Get up and Walk” programme
Lai returned to the 41st floor of Nina Tower for an interview with Donald Choi, Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer of Chinachem Group. Also present was Lai’s attending doctor Dr Paul Koljonen.
Rising to over 300 metres tall, Nina Tower is even taller than the Lion Rock that Lai climbed four years ago and was a completely different test. In taking on the climb, Lai wanted to help the Department of Orthopaedics and Traumatology of The University of Hong Kong raise funds for the “Get up and Walk” programme. The objective of the programme is to develop a wearable robotic exoskeleton for rehabilitation of patients suffering from spinal cord injuries as well as to conduct relevant research, so that they may have the opportunity to stand up and walk again. Chinachem Group pledged to donate an amount equivalent to the total raised by the campaign from the public on a dollar-for-dollar basis. Thanks to the incredible outpouring of support from the public, the entire project raised more than HK$7.7 million, including Chinachem Group’s matching donation of over HK$3.8 million.