Charity cyclo race raises $43,000

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HSBC racers cheering their victory in this year's Saigon Cyclo Challenge last week which raised nearly VND900 million for disadvantaged children in Vietnam

Nearly VND900 million (US$43,290) was raised through the Saigon Cyclo Challenge held on March 10, the organizers, Saigon Children's Charity, said.

Titled "Saigon Cyclo Challenge 2012: Children, charity, community" this year, the annual race attracted thousands of spectators to the Crescent in Ho Chi Minh City's Phu My Hung.

HSBC won the world's only cyclo race, Caravelle Hotel was second, and TNK Vietnam, third.

"It's not easy to ride a cyclo," said Nguyen Huu Toan, a racer for Megastar Cineplex.

"High-speed racing is even more difficult.

"I am very happy to take part "¦ [because it is] a meaningful charity event to help the community and disadvantaged children."

Toan's team won the newly introduced Cyclo Deco category for best decorated vehicle. The judges for this category were art students from District 4's Thang Long Vocational School run by Saigon Children's Charity for disadvantaged children.

Supporters of the participating teams and other spectators, many of them families, came to the event which also offered other entertainment for them in the form of dressing games for kids, Frisbee, magic shows, and cheerleading performances.

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For a second year the charity race was free for spectators.

A lucky draw was held to raise more money, with two lucky winners winning an all-inclusive weekend at the Windsor Plaza Hotel and a return flight ticket to Hong Kong.

Saigon Children's Charity, a British NGO, has been in Vietnam for more 20 years, helping more than 40,000 youths get an education through its expertise in school-building, vocational training, scholarships, and empowerment of local organizations.

"If we are able to give young people some skills, there are opportunities out there for them to grow," said its director, Paul Finis.

"The Saigon Children's Charity is here not just for a two- or three-year project but for life the life of each child and young person who needs us and for as long as they need our support."

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