The 12 cyclists who participated in the ‘Around the Pearl’ initiative were received by family, friends and supporters at Independence Square and thereafter at the 80 Club, where they celebrated the successful completion of their journey around Sri Lanka.
After having cycled for 10 days to raise funds for 1,000 wheelchairs for children afflicted with Cerebral Palsy (CP), the ‘Around the Pearl’ team competed the final phase of their journey from Chilaw to Colombo yesterday (20 April). Other cycling enthusiasts participated in the last lap to extend their support to the 12 riders.
On behalf of the Cerebral Palsy Lanka Foundation Dr. Mayuri Kaushalya Bandara thanked the 12 cyclists for dedicating their time to take part in the bicycle tour whilst spreading awareness about Cerebral Palsy and raising funds for the 1,000 wheelchairs.
“It is good to be the reason behind a person’s smile and it is good to be able to make someone smile. This initiative will bring happiness to the children with CP since a wheelchair can make their lives more fulfilling,” Dr. Bandara further added.
Ajith Fernando a key rider and one of the initiators of the ‘Around the Pearl’ project addressing the gathering said: “My daughter Ashwini has 99 problems and one if it is Cerebral Palsy. She was my inspiration behind this project.” Ajith specially extended his gratitude to; Leo Burnett and its Managing Director Ranil de Silva for running the show, the sponsors for all the support, Sajith for maintaining the bicycles for the riders throughout the tour, and the family members of the riders for sacrificing their Avurudu holidays and supporting and encouraging them during the 10 days.
The ‘Around the Pearl’ initiative by ‘Wheels for Wheels’ was a 1,427 km bicycle tour around Sri Lanka which was conducted by 12 business professionals, to raise funds for 1,000 wheelchairs to aid children with Cerebral Palsy (CP).
The team comprised of Ajith Fernando, Yasas Hewage, Jehan Bastian, Suren Abeysuriya, Dushmantha Jayasinghe, Anudatta Dias, Peter Bluck, Sanjay Mendis, Gihan Hemachandra, Ravi Weerapperuma, Sarinda Unamboowe and Charlene Thuring.
The ‘Around the Pearl’ team travelled around the entire island from Colombo to Weligama on the first day and thereafter to Kataragama, Arugambay, Passikuda, Trincomalee, Mullaitivu, Jaffna, Mannar and Chilaw over a nine day period, finally reaching Colombo on the 10th day. At some of their stops, the team conducted road safety sessions as part of the ‘Blinking Lights’ project conducted by Wroom.
Cerebral Palsy is the term for a group of non-progressive disorders of movement and posture by abnormalities or damage to the motor control centre of the brain. CP is a significant health concern in Sri Lanka and is highly stigmatised. The number of children with Cerebral Palsy is as high as 8-10 per 1,000 births in Sri Lanka while it is as low as 6 per 1,000 births in the developed world. Cerebral Palsy is one of the most common childhood disabilities and there are an estimated 40,000 children with CP in Sri Lanka and 17 million around the world.
Many people in Sri Lanka do not have access to adequate funds to care for children with CP and as a result cannot afford to buy wheelchairs for them. A simple wheelchair can provide a sufferer of CP with greater mobility and freedom, enabling them to enjoy a more fulfilling life.
The ‘Around the Pearl’ initiative by ‘Wheels for Wheels’ was conducted in partnership with the Cerebral Palsy Lanka Foundation (CPLF) and Wroom. Sponsors and partners of the initiative include Janashakthi Insurance, Orient Finance, CAL, Jetwing Hotels, Wijeya Newspapers, Blinking Bikes, Shift and Leo Burnett.
Individuals and corporate could still support the ‘Around the Pearl’ initiative by visiting the website www.aroundthepearl.lk to make a donation. Each wheelchair costs approximately $ 100 and the goal of the ‘Around the Pearl’ initiative is to raise enough funds for 1,000 wheelchairs.