Voices That Care

Say Hello to ... Rachel

Every single person in Care2Run’s ecosystem is essential, and we’ve grown so much in three years thanks to all the different individuals who’ve played a part in getting us to where we are.

It is for this reason that we aim to hand this section over to our people – our participants, coaches, volunteers, parents, friends and loved ones – so they can tell you what Care2Run means to them.

This week we say hello to …..  Rachel Quah, a Care2Run super volunteer who is passionate about helping differently-abled young people through running.

Rachel has only been volunteering with Care2Run since November 2018, yet from the effortless manner in which she interacts with Care2Run’s young participants, it is easy to assume that she’s a veteran mentor.

She’s energetic, compassionate, and above all, patient with all the differently-abled young mentees she meets, especially Yen Yen, a differently-abled young woman who looks to have grown so much in her athletic confidence since meeting Rachel.

At the KL Bar Run on January 13, 2019, Yen Yen, Rachel and Care2Run Senior Coach Gregory Phua ran, walked and laughed together as they completed their 3km – the same distance they’d done two months earlier at the Allianz-Pacesetters Relay. The experience was just as memorable. The one difference between this most recent time and last year’s event however, was that this time, one could see just how much closer Rachel and Yen Yen had become.

Here’s Rachel to tell you more …

Hey there, Rachel. Can you tell us what you do for a living, and what you’re passionate about outside of work?

Hi there! Well, I am a food technologist by profession, but what I really love is running. I am a competitive runner, and I mostly run in the 10km category. I started just after university – around 2013-2014 – and I’ve taken part in many runs since then. My resolution for 2019 is actually to run a half marathon, but I don’t know if I can achieve that, because it’s going to be quite a jump from what I’m used to. The longest I’ve done to date is 15km.

How did you get involved with Care2Run?

Actually, I got to know about Care2Run from my boyfriend, who was already familiar with Prem and Care2Run. He knows that I love to run and that I had been training to be a pacer, to pace actual runners, so he asked me if I wanted to do something for charity, to pace differently-abled kids in a run. That’s how I volunteered to help out at the Allianz-Pacesetters Relay last year.

Can you tell us about your experience at Allianz-Pacesetters and what running and bonding with Yen Yen was like?

I was only supposed to help out at the event. But then later I got asked to run, and that was good for me, because I love running. I was with Greg and Yen Yen. And Greg was very good. He really made sure I bonded with Yen Yen. I speak basic Mandarin, so I guess that’s why it was a little easier for me to communicate with Yen Yen. I also got to talk to Yen Yen’s mum, Wai Kuan, and she was really easy to talk to. She gave me some tips about how to interact with Yen Yen. We all – Greg, Yen Yen, Wai Kuan and me – ended up running together, and we got to know each other better.

What insight about Yen Yen did you get from her mum?

She told me that the one word Yen Yen uses a lot is “bu yao”, which means “no” in Mandarin. Everything you ask Yen Yen, you get “no”. But that doesn’t mean that she doesn’t want to do something, or doesn’t like it. Sometimes she says “bu yao” but she actually wants it. Her mum also told me that Yen Yen really likes coming to Care2Run and loves running, and I guess for her, she loves how everyone is so patient with Yen Yen.

Yen Yen has really warmed up to you. We noticed at the KL Bar Run that there was an instance when she didn’t want to budge when Greg told her it was time to run. But then she smiled when you took her hand, and followed you. It was a lovely a moment to witness. What was that experience like for you?

I was quite surprised actually. In fact, the very first time we ran together – at Pacesetters – she held my hand while running. Before we actually ran that day, Prem told me that Greg would be with me to help and hand over the mentoring to me, and that Yen Yen might need to warm up to me. And I thought to myself that it was going to be very challenging. So when we were together, I didn’t want to overload Yen Yen with attention, or scare her in any way. I really didn’t expect her to take to me so quickly. I don’t know whether it’s because I’m a girl or what, but it was definitely unexpected. And after that, during the training sessions for KL Bar Run, when I met her, she recognised me. To me, that felt like an accomplishment.

But you know at KL Bar Run, when I took her hand, I was just trying my luck, and it worked [laughs].

I think I’ve also learned how to get Yen Yen to move. Sometimes while running, when she doesn’t want to go on, I just stand next to her and talk to her. Then I slowly start jogging on the spot and I don’t know, but that makes her go into this sorta competitive mode and she’ll want to run and go faster. I tried standing in front of her and coaxing her, but that didn’t really work. You need to move with her, then she moves.

How do you think Care2Run can help other young people like Yen Yen? 

Care2Run is a really great idea. I have helped out in a school with differently-abled kids before and I noticed that the one thing most kids with differences have in common is that they all like outdoor activities and sports. I also help out in church, and my students are all 11-year-olds, and I find that with them too, they love outdoor activities.

Can you tell us about some of the other Care2Run participants you’ve met?

I really love the interaction with the kids. They’re all really cute. Some of them love taking selfies with me. Max was the first one I talked to. And then there’s Omar. Omar was actually helping us coach Yen Yen the first time. They’re all really friendly and welcoming. And I’m also quite chatty, so I guess they like that. I also met Syafiq, Amirul and Ne Fong. Amirul can be so funny. It’s such a fun environment, and I don’t feel awkward with the children.

What does Care2Run mean to you and what keeps you coming back?

Well, the main thing is I like children, and I like to run. And for me, there is no better way to spend a weekend, than to run with these kids. To see the joy on their faces when they finish a run, it’s priceless. To be with them on that journey … words can’t describe how happy that makes me.

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