While loneliness and boredom might have inspired him to moonlight as a food delivery cyclist, Anthony Houlahan’s objective to raise funds for charity was anything but self-seeking. Soon after the start of the Circuit Breaker period, the vice-president of strategy for Ericsson Telecommunications found himself struggling to cope with the isolation of living alone in Singapore. “I wanted to do something active. If I was going to go out on my bike, I thought about how I could make that meaningful,” muses Houlahan, 49, who has lived in Singapore for 18 years.
His wife and two daughters are in the United Kingdom. So he decided to sign on as a food delivery rider – first with GrabFood and subsequently with Foodpanda – as food was something people needed during the lockdown. Houlahan chose the Children’s Cancer Foundation (CCF) as the beneficiary. “I wanted to help children because they have done nothing to deserve their illness. Also, my mother died of cancer. When you lose a parent in that way, it stays with you and you can always feel the pain other people are going through.”
He began making food deliveries on April 22 and roped in his family in the UK to help him create posts on social media to amplify his efforts. Besides sending messages to customers to tell them about his fundraising initiative, he also encouraged supporters to make donations directly to CCF or to make pledges based on his earnings.
“I have the utmost respect for the people who do food deliveries. They work hard.”
By the time he’d concluded his campaign on June 29, he had earned $5,000 as a rider and raised a whopping $120,000 in donations and pledges. After covering some 2,000km as a rider, Houlahan naturally has a few stories to share. He laughs as he tells of the time when he dropped a cup of Starbucks coffee in the rain and had to buy another one to fulfill the delivery. Today, he barely breaks a sweat when cycling up the hills of the River Valley area, which he found challenging at the start.
The riding gig also gave him an insight into the lives of the riders who were very welcoming of his efforts to raise funds for charity. For instance, they would share “insider” information such as the areas that were perpetually busy. They also taught him how to avoid long waits at some establishments. “I have the utmost respect for the people who do this job. They work hard,” says Houlahan, who estimates he earned between $20 and $25 an hour as a rider.
Sweating For A Good Cause
Permanent resident Anthony Houlahan cycled over 2,000km to raise funds for the Children’s Cancer Foundation during Singapore’s Circuit Breaker period.
Along the way, it was the people he met and their responses to his efforts that moved him most. “People in Singapore really got behind me,” says the permanent resident. “After the initiative became more well known, people on the streets would stop to thank me. I am happy that what I did has had such a positive effect but, for me, it was a no-brainer. It was a chance to be a part of society and doing it made me happier and more balanced.”
The Push Forward
“About 10 years ago, I coached soccer at a local home for girls. They were keen to get involved and were attentive when we taught
them; we even arranged matches against other girls’ teams. They were lovely girls, who happened to be in a tough situation. It was rewarding to help them pick up a sport they could dedicate themselves to, which was helpful to those going through a difficult
period in life. This experience inspired me to continue finding ways to give back.”