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"Precious Gems 53" - Prelude to the Olympics
01 October 2020

As the world prepares excitedly for the Japan Olympics, slated to begin in the summer of 2021, we at HCA, set the pace and held our first ever HCA Hospice Care Olympics 2020 at Kang Le Day Hospice. Our ever supportive volunteers made extra efforts to put up colourful posters of Singapore Olympians, other world champions and even created a stage for Olympic winners to receive their medals, with a photo booth to boot – all for our make believe outing of “A Day at the Olympics”.

Our patients or rather our ‘Olympics Athletes’ arrived to a fanfare of pompom girls welcoming them to the HCA Olympic grounds, which were decorated with flags from around the world. Each athlete was adorned with an ‘Olympics’ sash, as they prepared to take part in five sports – Archery, Basketball, Bowling, Golf and our very own special event, Tic Tac Toe!

Our very excited athletes were all set to compete in the five sports, each one vying for the elusive medals. There were 15 medals at stake and everyone was raring to go. The patients were divided into two groups and for the morning, they competed in the very challenging archery and basketball events. Everyone cheered for their favourite sportsmen and sportswomen. Judges were on hand to keep scores and everyone gave off their best.

After lunch and a 'tough' morning, everyone had to take a rest before resuming the final three events for the day. Bowling was a keenly contested event, with bowling pins dropping, to the wildly cheering fans. The golf event saw full participation. Tic Tac Toe was a crowd favourite, with the patients having to pit skill and strategy.

After the final three events, the judges tallied their scores and it was time to announce the results. For every event, there was a Gold, Silver and Bronze medal to be given away to the top three athletes. Almost every patient received a medal, with all the gold medallists proudly seated with their medals around their necks, a garland on their heads and given the honour of posing with the Olympic torch.

Our volunteers managed the entire event as announcers, sports officials, judges and prize presenters. And with the current restrictions of not more than five volunteers, their jobs became tougher, but they managed in good stride.

At first, most of the patients thought that the medals awarded were to be returned but when told they could take them home as keepsakes, they were so delighted. Never have they dreamt of receiving such medals (which looked rather real) and some even joked if they could pawn the gold medals if they had financial constraints. Others said they would show their grandchildren that they won the medals in the HCA Olympics. Another said her son bought a frame to frame up her bronze medal. One of our patient’s quipped “This is the first ever happiness for me. I’ve never had so much fun before”. Another’s son wrote to us to say “We are so grateful. Thank you for making it such a special day for my mum!”

We can only thank our ever creative and ever supportive volunteers, who made this such an eventful “outing” for our patients. Together with our Day Hospice staff, they made it such a special treat for our patients. This would likely be the only "Olympics" that our patients can participate in. Many are not even sure they would be around to witness the Japan Olympics, but they are happily satisfied. I am so thankful for the kind and generous support by our volunteers and our staff. The patients still cannot stop talking about the great HCA Olympics Day!