People always say actions speak louder than words. A lot of people know about the problem of animal cruelty in Hong Kong because it's always on the news and social media. But not a lot of people actually do something to help the animals. It was time for that to change, and the first step was finding a way that I could help.
I first learned about Hong Kong Homeless Dog Shelter on the news. I visited the shelter at Easter and I was really impressed by what they have done for the dogs. You'd think it would be a complete mess with more than 200 dogs and only a few volunteers. But to my surprise, the shelter was very organised and neat. The dogs were all well trained and listened to the workers' instructions. They were in different rooms and the entire place was clean and hygienic.
But the shelter isn't very well known in Hong Kong and they run on a limited budget. So I decided to do something to support them. When my school gave me the chance to start a project of my own, I decided to raise funds for the shelter.
I thought fundraising was a practical way to help the shelter and I could also learn a lot from organising an event. Since Hong Kong has such an active community I thought a race would be a popular choice. I also really liked the idea since dogs could be a part of it, and so, Race for Strays was born.
I set a very challenging goal for myself. I had basically no experience in organising a public event and I didn't have much time to put everything together. Organising it all was definitely stressful. There were times where I thought the event was either not going to happen or be a complete mess. And sometimes it was. We not only had to find a venue, but also needed to design a website and get sponsors.
And getting those sponsors was the hardest part. I don't think I've ever sent so many emails in such a short period of time. And I was checking my emails as often as anyone else might check Facebook.
There were also a lot of rejections from sponsors. I knew that would happen, so I just kept trying and approaching different companies. I managed to get some advice from experienced organisers of charity events, and recruited friends to help me look for sponsors and design graphics for the event.
We ended up with four sponsors who offered treats for both our human and canine participants - Lola's Ice Pops, K-Roll, Naturalis and Three Dog Bakery.
When it came down to publicity, the internet and social media really helped. People shared the event on Facebook which helped us get participants. Even people I didn't know helped share and spread the word.
The goal was to raise more than HK$10,000, with all the money going to Hong Kong Homeless Dog Shelter. Up until the final moment, I was still worried about different problems or disasters that could happen on the day of the event.
But I didn't need to worry. On November 7, 85 people came to race. Many of them brought their dogs, and everyone had a wonderful time running - whether on two legs or four.
We also successfully raised HK$21,800 - more than double our original goal.
So while the process may have been more of a challenge than I had bargained for, it was all worth it in the end, with smiles and wagging tails all around.