YAANA Ventures presented US$25000 to Operation Smile Thailand and Vietnam on 25 September in Bangkok. The donation was made possible by 20 energetic rider-sponsors who joined the inaugural YAANA Bike Challenge. The three-day 226 km bike ride took place 9-11 September along the scenic coast of central Vietnam, from Quy Nhon to Hoi An.
The funds will be used to pay for operations, after care and speech therapy for Asian children born with facial deformities such as cleft lip. Operation Smile Thailand, Board of Directors Member, Therese Beauvais, receiving the cheque on behalf of Operation Smile, said: “I would like to thank and congratulate our friends at YAANA Ventures, Grasshopper Adventures and all the rider-sponsors who participated in the YAANA Corporate Bike Challenge in Vietnam. It was not an easy ride and yet everyone stayed true to their commitment and finished the ride in style, bringing more awareness and much needed funds to both Operation Smile Thailand and Operation Smile Vietnam. We are forever grateful for their sustained support and dedication to children in the region.”
The 20 rider-sponsors who sweated hard and pushed themselves to raise funds were the senior executives of ASEAN Capital, Antipodeans, Sansara, InVision Hospitality, Anantara Chow Energy, EZ Land, Les Rives Experience, Vietnam Trade Alliance, Khiri Travel, Green Trails, GROUND, EMM Hotel Saigon, Remote Trails, YAANA Ventures and Grasshopper Adventures.
Chow Energy CEO Anavin Jiratomsiri, on day two, after 95 kilometres of biking in hot, humid conditions, rallied the two other Chow Energy rider participants to continue riding for another five kilometres (outside of the program design) in order to reach the magical 100 kilometres in one day — a feat of accomplishment.
Chris Stafford, Chief Operating Officer of 137 Pillars Hotels and Resorts, said that he “enjoyed every minute of it”. Frans Betgem, Founder and Managing Director of Green Trails in Thailand, said: “Wish I could do it all over again.”
Willem Niemeijer, CEO of YAANA Ventures, who also participated, said: “All our sponsors were heroes in raising money for Operation Smile. Thank you to them all.”
He added: “Our objectives were to celebrate the beauty of ASEAN destinations, spread awareness of low impact responsible tourism, share ideas for best practice examples and push ourselves mentally and physically for a good cause.”
YAANA Ventures, which creates and invests in tourism companies that abide to a “people, planet, profit” ethos, will organise another YAANA Bike Challenge next year for like-minded companies and individuals.
Companies or individuals with an interest in sponsorship are invited to contact the organisers on [email protected].