By Sera Tikotikovatu-Sefeti

What happens when a worthy charity, healthy competition, dress-ups, creativity, and a nostalgic childhood memory of simple ‘bara’ races meet? You are met with uncontained excitement from adults who want to give their all for a cause close to their hearts.

‘The Amazing Wheelbarrow Race’–- an event aimed at raising funds to support the needs of children with disabilities—launched this week, with 16 teams already registered to participate.

This year rebranded as the ‘Bara Battle’, the event raises funds for the Suva-based Frank Hilton organisation.

Frank Hilton CEO, Sureni Perera, says the early registrations affirm the commitment of supporters ” to ensuring the lives of children with disabilities who are most vulnerable in society will truly flourish”.

The event, which has been running for seven years (virtually during COVID), is organised to raise funds for the Hilton home. “The hospital is now a care facility for children with high support needs, disabilities, and severe medical conditions who are at risk of abuse or neglect in their communities,” Perera says.

Of the 12 resident carers at the facility, only four are funded, and the organisation must raise funds for rhe remainder.

There are 12 children currently living in the home.

Mele Mafi, who is mother to Adi Losana Moala, a child who has speech difficulties, testified to the value of Hilton’s work and the fundraising event.

With eyes filled with tears, she said: “For the participating organisation, the race might be something that you will have as some team building activity, or maybe consider it as the organisation’s corporate responsibility.

“But let me reassure you that it is more than that; for us as parents, it is a donation that you continue to put a smile on our children’s faces and ensure that they have an enjoyable and memorable childhood experience,” she said.

The event can be run in person on July 29, with teams pushing their barrow three times around Albert Park, or virtually.

Extra Supermarket has registered its team, and they have a secret weapon, the original rugby sprint star Rupeni Caucau. Telecom is ready to defend their title as the most flamboyant and best dressed team, and grog buddies, the ‘Bagel Boys’ have issued a challenge to other established corporate bodies to beat them as they raised the most money last year. The message, though filled with playful banter between corporate bodies, was clear: this was “for the kids”.

The virtual race requires participants to download the mobile app “Amazing Wheelbarrow Race”, For every donation of $10, you move your wheelbarrow one km, and you can register as a team of up to eight. Virtual participants can share their journey, and call for pledges online.

“Through the app, you can click on “donate,” and it sends out links through any social media platforms, even your email, WhatsApp, and Viber; and anyone who clicks on the link is taken to a safe portal where they can donate,” Perera explained.

She says they aim to raise at least $150,000 from the event this year.

The 16 teams who have already signed up for the wheelbarrow race are: the Bagel Boys,  Vodafone, BlueScope Pacific Steel, Standss South Pacific, Educare, The Hot Bread Kitchen, Standard Concrete Industries, Basic Industries, Vinod Patel, Telecom Fiji Limited, Goodman Fielder, Extra Supermarket, Janty Kanvan, British American Tobacco and The Rotary Club Suva Peninsula. Registrations are still open, teams and business houses are encouraged to participate in this worthy cause.

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