It was an epic cycling excursion with a heartfelt purpose: to raise funds for and awareness of Newborns Vietnam, a charity dedicated to reducing infant mortality in Southeast Asia. A team of 20 volunteers, including 12 of the firm’s clients, seven Sidley lawyers and the British Ambassador to Vietnam, joined forces to make the ambitious trek a reality.
Beginning in the scenic town of Sapa in the Hoàng Liên Sơn mountain range, the team biked across 450 kilometers (approximately 280 miles) of Vietnam’s picturesque countryside. Along the way, the riders, including clients and Sidley lawyers from Hong Kong, Singapore and London, battled steep hills, muddy terrain and grueling weather conditions, ranging from cold and rainy with low visibility to scorching heat.
“Undertaking this sort of physical challenge created a deep bond and a strong camaraderie among the group,” said Allan Wardrop, a partner in Sidley’s Hong Kong office and three-time participant in the Newborns Vietnam cycling challenge.
Echoed one client participant: “I would defy anyone to devise a more rewarding experience that can so effectively bring together such a diverse group of people and leave the indelible marks of respect, goodwill and trust upon us all.”
Sidley’s biking team raised more than US$57,000 – 27% more than its initial goal. The money will go toward providing neonatal doctors and nurses with essential training and life-saving equipment at hospitals in Vietnam, where specialist neonatal care is limited. Newborns Vietnam is also developing a national resuscitation program and a safe transport system for infants who need urgent care during the critical first hours and days following birth.
The UK-registered nonprofit’s work helping hospitals administer high-quality care for newborns has reduced the infant mortality rate at Da Nang General Hospital in central Vietnam by 50% in four years. This success has led them to expand their efforts to several more locations, with Vietnam National Children’s Hospital in Hanoi acting as the hub of a network extending to Lao Cai in the remote northern region of Vietnam.
“This was a fantastic event for a very important cause,” said Matthew Sheridan, managing partner of Sidley’s Singapore office. “We are honored to have been able to participate in support of the wonderful work Newborns Vietnam has been doing on behalf of at-risk infants and their families.”
When the team completed their three-day journey, Vietnam National Children’s Hospital in Hanoi welcomed them in a special ceremony and invited them on a tour of the neonatal intensive care unit to see the tiny babies who inspired their journey.
“It was humbling to see first-hand how we can play a small part in helping Newborns Vietnam and all the medical professionals who have achieved so much through selfless dedication,” said Wardrop. “Building deep bonds with key clients across the region, while at the same time making a difference, was a priceless opportunity, and we look forward to once again joining forces with our clients next year to, hopefully, raise even more money.”
“Newborns Vietnam is proud to be working with such an inspired partner as Sidley,” said Suzanna Lubran, founder of Newborns Vietnam. “We are grateful that you share in our vision of a Vietnam where every birth is celebrated.”
Photo credits: Sam Wilson Visuals