July 25, 2011

MALAYSIA: Senior citizens dedicate their time as volunteers during recent KL Marathon

PENANG, Malaysia  / The Star / Metro / Central / July 25, 2011

SENIOR citizens came to the fore as volunteers at the recent Standard Chartered KL Marathon run.

Ng Keng Hoong or better known as Uncle Sunny, 68, the oldest among the veteran volunteers, was in charge of packing and distribution.

“I found out about volunteering from the official Standard Chartered KL Marathon website three years ago and since I have been volunteering in sporting events like the Commonwealth Games, KL and F1 Races, I thought that this would be fun,” said the retiree who was a former employee of the EPF.

“On top of that, I’ve already run 16 full marathon races in total. I thought it’s time for me to utilise my experience in marathon running and contribute back to the running community,” he added.

Active veterans: The volunteers posing with Standard Chartered KL Marathon project director Rainer Biemans (back).

Conversely, Madam Leong, the youngest of the veteran volunteers in her 50s, joined the team for first time this year for the same task.

“My friends encouraged me to join them this year and, since I am an avid runner, I decided to do both!” said the 10km participant.

These gung-ho senior citizens, are part of a huge community that dedicate their time to volunteering for small and large scale events around the country.

Tan Swee Huah, in her 60s, has been volunteering since the inception of Standard Chartered KL Marathon in 2009. “With free time on our hands after retirement, volunteering seems like the best option to fill our time with a worthy cause. It is also a good way to meet like-minded people and expand our social circle,” said Tan who completed the 10km race.

She added: “One would think we old ladies get tired easily but we lead active lives. We run each morning before our volunteer shifts which starts at 10am to 8pm. So it was not challenging at all to volunteer full time.”

“I believe that youths should start to volunteer to get a real sense of the world and to learn values such as teamwork, responsibility, punctuality and humility. Volunteering can also help the young people expand their social circle and adds value to their resume,” said Tan.

“Organisers should go to schools and colleges to meet students and highlight the benefits of volunteering. It would be great to have some age variety in volunteers in the next marathon,” said Madam Leong.

The volunteers, mostly passionate and experienced runners themselves, were able to anticipate the needs of the running community.

Additionally, volunteering was their way of giving back to the running community to ensure participants were able to have a successful run.

“This year, the marathon event was by far the best compared with the past two years. I definitely noticed positive changes, like the venue and booths were more conducive.

“The organisers made it a point to listen to our feedback and took them into consideration,” said Ng Ka Heng during an appreciation luncheon organised by Golazo Sdn Bhd, the organiser of the marathon.

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