SINGAPORE – More than S$960,000 was raised for the TODAY Enable Fund and local charity iC2 PrepHouse at The Enabling Fund Gala Dinner held at the Grand Hyatt Singapore hotel on Friday (Aug 24).
The amount, raised through donations, table sales and a live auction, is the largest amount raised from various TODAY Enable Fund fundraising efforts by far.
The gala dinner was jointly organised by SG Enable, an agency that supports persons with disabilities, and iC2 PrepHouse, an organisation that provides support to visually-impaired persons and their families.
The money raised will go to both the TODAY Enable Fund and the charity.
The TODAY Enable Fund – administered by SG Enable – was launched in December 2016 to nurture the talent of persons with disabilities, help them fulfil their aspirations, as well as improve their education, skills and employment prospects.
Emeritus Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong, the fund's patron, was the guest-of-honour at Friday's gala dinner.
"It is not possible for the bureaucracy to pay individual attention to the special needs of each person with disabilities, the spectrum of disabilities and needs is just too wide. Each person with disability is unique… This is where charities and voluntary welfare organisations come in," said Mr Goh.
He said the TODAY Enable Fund can help individuals with disabilities fulfil their dreams. "I want to help them discover their undiscovered talents and abilities. I want them to lead a normal life in the mainstream society," he said.
"We want a Singapore where (it is the norm for) people with disabilities contribute and achieve in society."
Items auctioned off included a wire sculpture by special needs artist Joshua Tseng, Peranakan jewellery and a pair of Singapore Airlines business class tickets to New York.
Of the amount raised on Friday night, S$270,000 came from property developer Far East Organisation, which also pledged to contribute S$250,000 every year to the TODAY Enable Fund over the next three years.
Other donors included Lieutenant-General (Retired) Ng Jui Ping and property developer Kwee Liong Tek.
Lt-Gen (Ret) Ng said they made the winning bid of S$13,000 for the wire sculpture but redonated the item so that it could be auctioned off again.
"I think that Singaporeans who have done reasonably in their careers and lives should make a special effort to help those who are less endowed from birth," he said.
The sculptor Mr Tseng, a 21-year-old undergraduate, said the amount raised at the auction exceeded his expectations.
Mr Tseng, whose vision rapidly deteriorated a few years ago, hopes the money will help those who are in similar circumstances. He received help from iC2, which subsidised his lessons and covered the cost of equipment needed for him to continue his studies.
To date, 31 beneficiaries have each received S$2,000 to S$3,000 from the TODAY Enable Fund. It helped Mr Lim Han Ming, 21, to pay for an illustration course and will help Mr Kenneth Lee, 26, to publish a short comic book.
The fund helped Ms Nuraqilah Fatin Swat, 23, to defray the cost of training and purchasing equipment for a latte art competition. For Mr Mohamad Ashree Mokri, 49, the money came in handy for courses in basic sports science and fitness training to support his dream of becoming part of the Singapore para powerlifting team.
The fund has also helped to pay for transition programmes for 280 persons with disabilities. Transition programmes help to maximise their learning and work potential, and enable them to lead more independent lives.
Some 6,000 people have also benefited from community integration efforts under the fund, aimed at fostering inclusion and greater empathy for persons with disabilities.