When Hoyi Lam joined her family business in 2015, she knew she wanted to use her power and status for good. Her family is known for its real estate projects in Hong Kong and mainland China, but Lam has also thrown her support behind ensuring that people with disabilities get access to sport and education.
Alongside her role as senior vice president of Lai Fung Holdings and Lai Sun Development, Lam also serves as the CEO of her family’s charity, the Por Yen Charitable Foundation, and last year was appointed chairman of Special Olympics Hong Kong (SOHK), the city’s branch of the world’s largest sports organisation for children and adults with intellectual and physical disabilities.
Lam became involved with Special Olympics after Por Yen sponsored a bowling competition at the Special Olympics World Games. There, she saw how the event transcended politics, gender, age, culture and religion. “No other event in the world has the same social and emotional impact,” she says.
There are currently 5 million members of Special Olympics International aged eight and up, representing more than 170 countries. The organisation also has a Young Athletes programme for children aged two to seven. “At any age and in every country, our athletes are learning new skills, making new friends and gaining fitness and confidence,” says Lam, who oversees local sports training, coordinates competitions and liaises with other Hong Kong sports organisations.
Since 1976, SOHK has helped integrate its athletes into society by promoting inclusion and acceptance, and enhancing their self-esteem through sport. Wilson Man Wai-shing, a bowling, bocce and basketball athlete, is now a board member of SOHK; Kurtis Jon Siu, talented in both golf and the arts, is a graduate of the Savannah College of Arts and Design and one of only ten Sargent Shriver International Global Messengers, spokespeople tasked with spreading the spirit of inclusion of the Special Olympics International. Candy Wong, a speed skater, participated in the 2017 Special Olympics World Winter Games in Austria and earned a silver and a bronze medal; she currently serves on the Global Athlete Leadership Council of Special Olympics International.
The biggest misconception about Special Olympics events is that they are no different from the Paralympics, which occur just after the Summer and Winter Olympic Games, and are held every four years with elite athletes who represent their countries and compete for medals.