Autistic student first to summit Mount Fuji virtually in challenge
Mr Gareth Chua does not let autism prevent him from living life to the fullest.
The 22-year-old Institute of Technical Education student has taken part in events such as the Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon.
This year, he signed up as a YMCA special needs ambassador and participated in the nationwide YMCA Special Needs Inclusive Challenge, an extension of the first YMCA Inclusive Climb 2019, which saw 10 people with special needs attempt to summit Japan's Mount Fuji.
Because of the Covid-19 pandemic, the YMCA Special Needs Inclusive Challenge 2021 takes place virtually within Singapore.
Running from now to May 29, it aims to build confidence, resilience and independence for those with special needs.
Training by jogging and climbing stairs, Mr Chua's efforts paid off as he came in first, ahead of over 430 participants, in conquering Mount Fuji virtually on April 1, taking about a month to achieve over 3,776m of elevation, the height of Mount Fuji. He wants to physically scale the mountain one day.
Mr Chua also hopes to conquer an elevation of 8,849m, the height of Mount Everest.
With a team of other YMCA special needs ambassadors, he hikes weekly at nature reserve.
He said: "I am more confident in myself and would like to thank everyone who supported me while I was hiking and jogging. I feel more active and healthy too."
Since the start of the challenge, the Young Men's Christian Association has raised more than $100,000 out of its goal of $250,000, which will help sustain its sports, arts and employment programmes.
So far, Mr Chua has garnered over $3,000 in donations.
The public can join the challenge individually or in teams by summiting Mount Fuji virtually through hikes around Singapore or attempting to walk, run or cycle 125km - which is equivalent to the perimeter of Mount Fuji.
He said: "I would like to encourage my friends to join because they can be active, strong and healthy."