Meeting Gerrard, you could never accuse him of being ordinary and in fact you might call him “siao”, the Hokkien word for ‘crazy’ and that would be a huge compliment. With bright orange hair, or pulling a tyre behind him as he runs a marathon, meet his alter-ego – Ah Siao – a crazy runner, doing insane things to raise awareness for the cause he stands for; Match for Life – the donor outreach campaign of the Bone Marrow Donor Programme (BMDP). As we approach our Marathon Madness kick-off at Chevron House in October, we caught up with the man behind the “siao” and found that despite the outward appearance, the motivation behind Ah Siao is absolutely genuine.
From humble beginnings, Gerrard knows what it is like to have little. As a typical Singaporean “Ah Beng” he dealt with the “darker side” of society before redirecting his life to helping people and supporting important causes, like the fight against Leukaemia.
A true sportsman and in addition to being a marathon runner, Gerrard is also a competitive martial artist, and knows the rewards – and the very real punishment – that comes from continually pushing for more. In the Singapore Marathon 2012, he pulled a tyre weighing 14kg behind him in order to raise funds for the BMDP. The tyre symbolized the struggle that Leukaemia patients go through to survive; for the self-designated crazy man, running is an extension and expression of love.
He relates to the BMDP’s cause, because he understands the challenge to grow the donor register in order to find a match for every patient. People can be risk-adverse, and may fear the process of bone marrow extraction. But Gerrard – and Ah Siao – feels that any effort that BMDP supporters put in, whether it is going through the actual process of donating, or pushing the boundaries to raise awareness, this is nothing compared to the challenges the patients have to endure.
His new goal? To finish among the top 10 runners at the upcoming Singapore Standard Chartered Marathon 2013, and raise more awareness for the BMDP. Very aware of the difficulties in attaining his goal, he is determined to reach it for the patients who inspire him.
And that’s why he’s challenging himself again to run two full marathon distances on a treadmill at the Marathon Madness event on 10 / 11 October!
“Would I ever reach that goal? I don’t know. But I shall try. When you have leukaemia and all that you need is a bone marrow transplant, you’d do anything. Comparatively, my efforts are nothing and their fight is my inspiration. It fuels me to push beyond.”