FROM striding solo in his teens, he now has his children by his side when he takes part in the Big Walk.
Mr Kenny Neo, 36, an engineer, joined the first Big Walk held in 1991 on his own.
“The Big Walk is an event I have grown up with. I was 16 when I took part in the first one. My wife joined me in 1999 and now, I have my children and even my in-laws joining us,” he said.
He is looking forward to more family fun on Sept 2 when the Big Walk starts at The Central shopping mall and takes participants to the Marina Barrage.
Registration opens this Thursday at various locations.
The Neos will be bringing their two daughters, aged six and seven, as well as their one-year-old son.
Said Mr Neo: “Last year, my wife was pregnant, so she didn’t go. This year, we’ll take our son along because we must go as a family.”
The Marina Barrage, the destination of the 2008 Big Walk, holds special memories for Mr Neo as that was the first time his in-laws joined him for the event.
Mr Neo’s sister-in-law, Miss Chua Meng Lan, 39, an assistant admin manager, said: “It was Kenny who suggested we take part and he organised everything.
“Although our family is close-knit, we usually have family dinners or end up sitting around watching TV. Joining the Big Walk is an opportunity to bond over a healthy activity.”
Mr Neo was among the 77,500 participants who took part in the Big Walk in 2000 when it entered the Guinness Book of World Records as an event with the largest number of walkers.
He recalled: “It was a human jam and there was hardly any space to walk. I ended up walking on the grass patch by the road, but I had a lot of fun.
“I’ve taken part every year hoping to win something in the lucky draw, but I haven’t won anything yet. Maybe I’ll win something this year.”
Miss Chua has entrusted the task of registering the family to Mr Neo.
She said: “He used to walk alone, now he has all of us to join him on the walk.”
Another Big Walk regular, Madam Doreen Lim, 41, has made plans to take part in the latest walk with her sisters and their families.
The housewife was in last year’s walk as part of a group of 20 family members and friends.
Said Madam Lim: “When I first took part in the Big Walk in 1999, my eldest daughter was in the stroller. Now, she is 14 and my younger daughter is 12.
“My daughters are reluctant to join my husband and me when we go for walks in our neighbourhood park because they say it is boring.
“But when it comes to the Big Walk, they get excited because it’s a mass event, and they get to meet their cousins and enjoy the carnival atmosphere.”
Madam Lim’s sister, Ms Adeline Lim, 42, an admin officer who has two children aged 16 and 19, is also looking forward to the Big Walk.
“It’s good for the kids. They get to exercise and bond with each other,” she said.
The Big Walk is also a family tradition for Mr Kelvin Chen, 25, a trainee teacher.
His parents first took him and his sisters to the Big Walk in 1995. They have taken part in 11 Big Walks since.
Said Mr Chen: “There is a photo in one of our family albums of myself as a boy, riding piggyback on my father.
“My father still wears the Big Walk T-shirts from past years. When I see him in the T-shirt, it reminds me of my growing-up years and taking part in the Big Walk together with my family.”
Last year, 10 of his family members, including his aunts and cousins, took part in the Big Walk.
His cousin, Miss Ang Peixin, 23, a staff nurse, said her parents are set on taking part in this year’s event.
“My parents couldn’t join us last year because they went overseas on a holiday. When they saw our photos, they said they wanted to take part in the next Big Walk since they missed out on the fun last year.”
Said Mr Chen: “The Big Walk is special to us because it is one day in the year that we dedicate to spending quality time as a family and exercising together.
“Usually, everyone is busy or tired from work. Going for the Big Walk is a refreshing way to bond.”
For more details of the Big Walk, visit www.tnp.sg/bigwalk