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Accor's extreme fundraising dream

Charity might begin at home, but the always-altruistic Accor Group has proven that it can also start at a hotel, raising the benchmark on corporate responsibility for its own staff and the entire hospitality industry in 2010.

Accor staff competing in Cure Kids Fiji

 Winner of the 2010 HM Award for Service to the Community, Accor Asia Pacific and its many inspired team members from across the world took on immense physical and fundraising challenges this year to charitably give back to the communities they operate in.

Accor took its service to the communities it operates in new levels this year, organising not one but two major fundraising adventure races in the Asia Pacific region.

After two successful Accor Race To Survive to Cure Kids events in Fiji in previous years (the first in 2006 and the second in 2008) to benefit Cure Kids Fiji, Accor launched its first Asia Cure Kids event, this time in aid of Thailand charity, Yim Kids.

Accor staff from across Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Thailand and even as far as France winged their way to the island paradise of Phuket in March to participate in the inaugural “Accor Race to Survive” for Asia raising $206,000 and participating in a grueling four day adventure that saw them cycle, run, swim, canoe and camp their way across Phuket.

According to Accor Director of Operations – Thailand, Paul Stevens, months of hard work came to fruition with 23 competing teams comprised of Accor employees participating.

“Many of the team members participating in the race are hoteliers, not professional athletes, but what united them was that they all trained hard and were truly committed to the fundraising event,” he said.

Each team was required to raise a minimum of US$7,000 as their entry fee and donate their time and energy to participate in the significant fundraising event, bringing attention to the cause and showcasing Thailand as a world-class tourist destination.

“As well as team fundraising and public support the success of Accor’s Race to Survive for Yim Kids is reliant on the sponsorship and generosity of corporate sponsors,” Mr Stevens said.

Michael Issenberg, Chairman and COO of Accor Asia Pacific agrees, saying corporate donations and support are essential to the success of its fundraising events.

“Major fundraising events like the Race to Survive would never come this far without our devoted participants and like-minded sponsors,” he said. “I am humbled by the overwhelming support we have received in 2010, and proud that we can improve children’s lives and make a difference creating lasting smiles on their faces.”

Accor staff in Phuket

 The funds raised in Thailand support four projects including the Mercy Centre’s Bangkok slum school, which has more than 300 students, and the Mercy Centre’s health and medical-related projects which provides support for some 63 orphaned and abandoned children with HIV/Aids..

Funds raised by Accor also assist communities on Phuket’s neighbouring island Koh Lon, by expanding their sustainable fishing program to improve their livelihoods, enabling the children from these communities to continue their secondary-level education in Phuket.

“Accor is also helping provide education funds to help the children of sea gypsies and rubber tree tappers in Phuket whose livelihoods and way of life have been affected by the Tsunami in 2004,” Stevens added.

Meanwhile in Fiji, home to the original Race to Survive in 2006, more than 70 staff from across Australia, New Zealand and Fiji committed to Accor’s second fundraiser for the year, the Accor Extreme Challenge to Cure Kids 2010, which took place in August.

Previously called the ‘Accor Race to Survive’ in 2006 and 2008, the new look Accor Extreme Challenge event remains a major fundraiser for Cure Kids Fiji to purchase vital medical equipment and medicines.

The group raised a tremendous AUD$382,150 for children’s charity Cure Kids Fiji who fund initiatives to improve health odds for the children of Fiji.

Through its partnership with Cure Kids Fiji, Accor help fund basic, life-saving medicines and equipment, and the now iconic bi-annual adventure challenge staged by the international hotel group this year incorporated a new ‘Extreme Makeover’ to transform and update Nadi Hospital’s maternity ward. 

Fiji Extreme Challenge organiser Murray Davison said: “Children are a precious part of the Fijian culture and lifestyle, but sadly, far too many lose their lives to basic illnesses that are treatable and preventable in other parts of the world.

“Accor’s Race To Survive and Extreme Challenge events are devised to raise money and awareness for the plight of underprivileged and sick children in the Fiji Islands. It’s a truly worthy cause, and for 30 years has funded research into life-threatening childhood illnesses internationally,” Davidson said.

This year’s competition involved swimming, kayaking and running capped off with a complete makeover of the Nadi Hospital with the help of Cure Kids partners for the event – Rosie Holidays and Accor Hotels.

Tough conditions in Fiji

 In Fiji the Accor hotel group operates four hotels – the Sofitel Fiji Resort & Spa, Novotel Suva Lami Bay, Novotel Nadi and the Mercure Nadi – and provides employment to nearly 1000 people across the island nation. Accor created its “Cure Kids Fiji” fund in strong commitment to the community of Fiji. 

The money raised by Accor Hotels in past years has been used to purchase state-of-the-art equipment for the neo-natal and Paediatric Intensive Care Units at Lautoka Hospital and basic medical items for the childrens ward at the Nadi Hospital. Funds have also been used to aid annual visits by paediatric kidney specialists and INTERPLAST teams who carry out cleft palate and lip surgeries.

More than $120,000 of money raised by Accor in the past has been used to fund a rheumatic heart disease control and prevention programme to detect and treat children with the disease. Three ventilators being used at Suva’s Colonial War Memorial Hospital were also bought through these funds.

Lee Pearce, Area General Manager, Accor Fiji, who assisted with the event in Fiji said: “Despite being personally touched by the changes made by past Cure Kids events I was further moved by the emotions apparent in each team that participated his year, brought about by the changes they saw and contributed to.

“Watching a group of people who were once complete strangers unite together and share in the special time that is the Extreme Challenge was by far for me the most poignant moment of the event to date.

“It’s these experiences that change our staff’s lives, give purpose to what we do in our jobs every day and keep people coming back for more each year in support of such deserving causes,” Pearce said.

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