To the man on the street Tony Siew is just another pub owner who rakes in big bucks through booze and music. To those you know him better, Tony is a modern-day good Samaritan who has worked tirelessly to raise funds for those in need through Waikiki Bar, a business he owns.
The idea to help those in need came about years ago when baby Callum, son of former national hockey goalkeeper Paul Lopez required surgery to correct a deformed hand and other serious health issues.
Tony explains, “In one night, we raised $10,000 through auctions and drink sales. The smiles, the teamwork and the overall feel good vibes put me on an emotional high. It was then that I decided to do what little I could to help on a twice yearly basis.”
True to his word, Tony holds two big charity events every year at Waikiki Bar. One in June (his birthday) and the other in November (the anniversary of his bar’s opening).
Tribute to kindness
Team Waikiki Angels’ first effort in 2009 was called ‘Tribute to Kindness’. The RM17,000 collected went to Kirtash Homes, whose mix-race residents range from babies to the elderly, many of whom are physically or mentally challenged or both.
In his second charity project, Tony raised RM18,000 for musician and dear friend, Alvin Fletcher who had to undergo a heart bypass.
“I dare say I’ve never seen so many musicians under Waikiki’s roof at one time before,” Tony says of that night. They also raised money for their very own deejay Thomas Alvin Cross who needed to be fitted with a prosthesis after losing his leg to a long-time bone infection. This time they raised RM13,000.
Share the power of a wish
In June this year, Tony encountered a life-changing moment. He says, “My motorcycle group BMW Motorrad, organised a charity event to fulfill the wishes of a terminally ill five year-old girl named Nurin who wished to fly in an aeroplane and own a PSP portable game.”
Although we banded together and worked fast to make her wishes come true, little Nurin passed away just two days before the event.
“I, for one was completely shell shocked, and it was then that I knew exactly what we were going to do next – fulfill the wishes of the kids at the cancer ward at KLH,” Tony explains of how ‘Share the Power of A Wish’ came about.
With 63 kids in the initial list, Tony and gang set about to make the kids’ wishes come true. He says with a chuckle, “There were requests for simple toys like robots, games and barbie dolls but there were also some pretty expensive items on that list like iPhones, iPads, lap tops, portable DVD players and lots of PSPs.”
Although losing a few kids before the event, Tony and friends plodded on. He says, “This time the support was unbelievable and we collected close to RM32,000.” The actual event to hand over the gifts to the kids was one of mixed emotions. “I left the hospital completely numb and mentally scarred,” he says.
Tony’s latest event was held in November this year and called ‘Tribute to Charity’ Fiesta, the recipients of which were the poor families of children suffering from cancer. This particular event was close to Tony’s heart as his youngest son, Heston aged just nine months was officially diagnosed with A.M.L. Leukemia recently.
With only a 35%-40% chance of survival, Baby Heston’s fate is yet to be determined as even after two rounds of chemotherapy, the little one has not achieved remission status yet.
Remembering how his friends rallied around to help him settle his mounting hospital bills, Tony felt he wanted to repay the gesture through the ‘Tribute to Charity’ Fiesta.
Tony says he will continue to give to charity no matter what the circumstances. He says, “By encouraging empathy, decency and goodwill and having our children involved, hopefully we may create a new and better generation, growing up strong and with better morals.”