Agape Asia Foundation – dedicated to raising funds for life-saving surgery on Chinese children with congenital heart disease – was the Sanya stopover charity to benefit from Team Alvimedica’s world heart charity initiative. Proceeds from two online auctions on Team Alvimedica’s website, totaling Chinese RMB 41,000, have been donated to Chinese Agape.
Kai Wei said: “Today is an incredibly exciting day for me, to be sailing with the crew and jumping off the boat as they sail away from Sanya. I thank Team Alvimedica for such a great opportunity.”
Julia Ng from Agape said: “Words cannot express how grateful we are for Team Alvimedica’s generous support, both in helping raise vital funds and awareness of our work at Agape. Team Alvimedica’s support will help save the lives of children whose families wouldn’t normally be able to afford the medical care required.”
From the Event:
What an utterly unforgettable weekend! A weekend of sun, sea and sail, coupled with the savoury taste of ocean water splashing up the boat……
Kai Wei was at the dock, gingerly stepping into his yellow waterproof suit, readying himself to join Team Alvimedica’s 8 sailors and on-board journalist, as they prepared to sail out of Sanya to Auckland on Leg 4 of the Volvo Ocean Race. Kai Wei felt very excited and brave. He looked confident. He was going to show the world that an ex-congenital heart patient can be healthy enough to jump off a moving boat into the deep waters of the ocean, to engage in an adventure that most of us will never have the guts nor the opportunity to do. As I watched Kai Wei from above, separated by the railing that keeps spectators out of the dock, I was bursting with pride, and filled with gratitude to the unknown and unseen sponsors who provided the funds ten years ago to heal this young boy, now full of promise for the future. Proud that Chinese Agape did what we could for him, then a poor ten- year- old boy with blue lips and blue fingers but without the money to correct the heart defect causing this bluish tinge. Grateful that sponsors had provided the funds to make it happen, without any thought of reward or return.
Standing beside me and enthusiastically waving the Team Alvimedica flag, was another one of Agape’s beneficiaries, thanks to her sponsor. Mei Lin has been receiving support for her living and school fees since she was 12, and here she was now, at 22, waiting to receive her university degree this summer. She happened to be interning at a fire equipment engineering/contracting company in Sanya. I invited her to join me and Kai Wei’s dad for the spectator activities that day, to watch the sailors’ parade down the Sailors’ Terrace, the mayor and other dignitaries’ greetings of each sailor, the city handover ceremony from Sanya to Auckland, the emotional send off as family, friends and fans bade farewell to the teams as the boats docked out, and especially exciting, to ride in the RIB (rigid inflatable boat). Out on the waters, coming up close to the teams, cheering Team Alvimedica, tracking the teams as they made three loops at the harbor in Phase 1 of the race, and then sending them off into the horizon, it was so exhilarating as we sped over the waves and felt the wind rush into our faces and blow our caps off our heads…. this once in a life time up close experience of the Volvo Ocean Race. Mei Lin and Tang Senior could not believe her good fortune to enjoy this. Neither could I!
It was incredible to recall that just 30 days before, my mobile phone rang and the sweet voice of Kristi Wilson came through, asking me if we would be interested to be Team Alvimedica’s charity partner for the Sanya stopover of the Volvo Ocean Race. Alvimedica, a young and agile medical devices company headquartered in Turkey Europe and focused on endovascular and interventional cardiology, has a team competing in this race. One of seven teams in the competition, Team Alvimedica is the youngest, with 8 of their 9 members in their 20s and 30s, a deliberate strategy by Alvimedica to reflect the company’s own youthfulness. It aims to show that youth is no barrier to survival and success in strong and intense competition, both in the commercial world and in the sailing world – the Volvo Ocean Race is the world’s longest, most stressful competitive sport, covering an arduous 9 months, 5 continents, 4 oceans, almost 39,000 nautical miles, and untold physical and mental challenges of sleep deprivation, freeze dried food all day and every day on the boat, limited space, 20-story tall waves, searing heat, sub-zero temperatures, ice storms and dangers of collision with fishing boats, container ships, and cruise liners at narrow straits.
Not only is Alvimedica young, adventurous and ambitious, it also has a heart. Not just in the fact that their focus is on heart patients, and their logo is a heart, but also in their actions. As the saying goes, actions speak louder than words. They are the only team on the Volvo Ocean Race to have a standard program to raise funds at each of the 10 stopovers to help the underprivileged. They offer two events (Pro-Am Race and Jump Ship) for online bidding, with all proceeds donated to the selected charity at each stop. Chinese Agape Foundation was very thankful to be selected and we received a donation of Rmb 41,000 (USD $6,600).