Going the distance – on a wheelchair

Going the distance means overcoming challenges, even if the challenge is one of mobility. This is certainly true of Fong Chun Cheong.

An accountant and a geomancer, Fong met with a tragic accident in 2008, leaving him paralysed from waist down, and rendering him wheelchair-bound.

Yet, nothing is going to hold this 30-year-old back from living life to the fullest: not only is he on the way to complete his Masters in Taxation, he is also now in his second year reading Law with the University of London.

He is also a wheelchair Triathlete training for an upcoming grueling Ironman.

But things weren’t always looking up for Fong, who had to spend nine months recuperating from his injury, and suffered from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder for a year from the date of the horrible accident. At that time, he was haunted by suicidal thoughts, nightmares and flashbacks.

Until the day he met a doctor who had a Masters in Law.

Fong thought: “If a doctor can study law, why not an Accountant?”

That thought sparked him to get out of his mental rut. Education became a motivation for him to start life anew. He progressively accepted his condition, and even began to take on sports.

Though Fong has moved on from his darker days, life is not plain riding for him. Today, Fong is still facing his greatest challenge – mobility.

“I use the wheelchair for long distances and elbow crutches for short distances,” says Fong. “I will always try to use elbow crutches to “walk” as far as possible so as to strengthen my legs (although Doctors say it’s impossible for them to recover). If I don’t try to stand up and walk, I will lose my legs’ muscles; but if I stand up and walk too much, I may hurt my spine further as the way I “walk” (with crutches) is actually harmful to the spine. As such, I would always have to gauge when I should use the wheelchair, or elbow crutches.”

When Fong heard from his friends Robin Yap and Wai Theng about the Project Happy Feet Slipper Race, he did his own research on the non-profit organisation behind the non-competitive fund-raising walk in slippers.

“I feel the way Project Happy Feet helps children locally and in Cambodia is very right,” says Fong. “I feel that Project Happy Feet’s mission can lead children to walk into a good path through education, training, etc. It’s like the saying: ‘Don’t give the children fish, Teach the Children to fish.’ One day, these children will grow up and be able to continue this mission to help and inspire children of another new era.”

“I hope by joining the Race, I can do my part to help the children to “walk” a good path to their future,” says Fong, who believes that one should never be a handicap in mind.

And so he registered for the upcoming Slipper Race on 4 November. No second thoughts.

When asked what message he has for our readers, he quipped:

“Look at the things you currently have and not those you have lost. Use them to continue to live on, inspire others and stay happy. Always treasure what you have and never take things for granted.”

Not only is this man going the distance, we are sure his words will as well.

Project Happy Feet thanks Fong for sharing his inspiring story, and for supporting the Project Happy Feet Slipper Race. Come join us that day and if you see Fong that day, do say ‘hi!”