Skip to main content



Youths establish ground-up initiative to raise money, awareness for Singaporeans with muscular dystrophy

SINGAPORE — Two young men, Mr Ian Chan and Mr Goh Wei Han, are friends of around the same age, with similar goals, dreams and interests. The only major difference between them is their physical abilities.

(From left to right): Mr Ong Tsien Jin, Mr Ian Chan and Mr Goh Wei Han at Mr Goh’s house

(From left to right): Mr Ong Tsien Jin, Mr Ian Chan and Mr Goh Wei Han at Mr Goh’s house

Follow us on Instagram and Tiktok, and join our Telegram channel for the latest updates.

  • The Ironman In You project aims to raise awareness on muscular dystrophy
  • It also aims to raise money for members of the Muscular Dystrophy Association of Singapore 
  • As of June 25, this project had raised S$21,380 and the Ironman In You team hopes to reach its target of S$100,000


SINGAPORE — Two young men, Mr Ian Chan and Mr Goh Wei Han, are friends of around the same age, with similar goals, dreams and interests. The only major difference between them is their physical abilities.

Mr Chan, 21, is healthy and able-bodied whereas Mr Goh, 19, has muscular dystrophy, which refers to a group of diseases that cause progressive weakness and damage to a person’s muscles over time. He was diagnosed with a specific type of muscular dystrophy called spinal muscular atrophy type 3 when he was in primary school.

Mr Chan, a fitness enthusiast, completed an unofficial Ironman Triathlon on June 20 to raise awareness and money for people such as Mr Goh who are diagnosed with muscular dystrophy. It was part of a non-profit project that he and his friends founded in February this year called The Ironman In You.

Due to be matriculating into the National University of Singapore this August, Mr Chan completed a gruelling 3.8km swim, 180km bike ride and a 42km run at Changi Beach, which was organised with the help of his co-founders from The Ironman In You project.

Official Ironman Triathlon races are organised by the World Triathlon Corporation and are regarded as one of the most difficult one-day sporting events in the world, because it can take 16 to 17 hours to complete. These races have not been taking place in Singapore during the pandemic.

Mr Chan met Mr Goh when the latter was playing at a weekly Boccia activity, a precision ball sport played by those with physical disabilities, orgnaised by the Muscular Dystrophy Association of Singapore (MDAS). 

They forged a friendship as Mr Chan was interested to learn more about muscular dystrophy from Mr Goh and they soon started to bond over the similar interests and goals that they shared.


In an interview with TODAY, Mr Chan said that he turned to fitness during the pandemic last year like many others.

However, he was upset as he felt that his fitness levels were improving at a slow pace. This was when Mr Chan started thinking about how difficult it would be for people suffering from muscular dystrophy to maintain their physical strength.

That was the spark that led Mr Chan to gather a group of friends to found The Ironman In You project to raise awareness and money for Singaporeans suffering from muscular dystrophy.

Mr Ong Tsien Jin, 21, one of the project’s co-founder, said: “People with muscular dystrophy go through each day with a lot of willpower and that inspired us to name our project ‘The Ironman In You’.”

The team has been using their Facebook page (The Iron Man In You) and Instagram account (@theironmaninyou) to share more material about muscular dystrophy through videos and information nuggets.

They have also come up with a fitness challenge called the #theironmaninyou challenge. Social media users may choose to either run a distance of 5km, swim for 500m or cycle for 10km. Users may then post a Facebook or Instagram story of themselves taking part in either of these fitness activities and tag and challenge their friends to undertake these activities.

The aim of this challenge is to raise awareness about muscular dystrophy and get able-bodied people to develop empathy towards Singaporeans suffering from this condition who struggle to do simple daily activities such as standing up, walking or going to the toilet.

Mr Chan added: “This challenge also aims to help able-bodied and healthy Singaporeans feel grateful to be able to run, swim and cycle and realise that there are others around the same age as them who might not be able to take part in these physical fitness activities”.

The Ironman In You team aims to raise S$100,000 and had raised S$21,380 as of June 25. Their fundraising efforts started on May 1 and will be ending on June 30. 

The Tote Board — which oversees horse racing, lottery games and other gaming in Singapore — has pledged to match a dollar for every dollar donated to this project’s cause.

All proceeds will go to the MDAS to assist members who suffer from muscular dystrophy because the financial burden can be huge on families with loved ones who are diagnosed with muscular dystrophy.


Mr Goh, who suffers from a specific type of muscular dystrophy called spinal muscular atrophy type 3, said that he is physically stronger than some of his peers who also suffer from muscular dystrophy.

He is due to matriculate into Singapore Management University this August.

Mr Goh is able to walk short distances inside his house with the help of a walking stick. However, he needs a wheelchair customised to his body whenever he goes out.

The condition comes with some heavy expenses. Mr Goh’s wheelchair cost more than S$1,000 even though it is not as highly customised as those of his peers with muscular dystrophy.

Apart from equipment such as wheelchairs, transportation and frequent hospital and physical therapy visits are also very pricey, Mr Goh added.

When asked how he feels about The Ironman In You initiative, Mr Goh told TODAY that he was pleasantly surprised by the amount of money raised and the reach that the project has achieved so far.

“There are people in society who do not really value people with muscular dystrophy,” he said. “There definitely needs to be a wider exposure to the public about people with not just muscular dystrophy, but special needs in general,” Mr Goh said.

“As long as people are exposed to us, they will know that there is nothing inherently different about us other than our physical attributes — we, like normal people, have our own goals and aspirations.”

Members of the public who wish to contribute to The Ironman in You project may donate through or websites.

Related topics

muscular dystrophy Youth donation fundraising The Ironman in You

Read more of the latest in




Stay in the know. Anytime. Anywhere.

Subscribe to get daily news updates, insights and must reads delivered straight to your inbox.

By clicking subscribe, I agree for my personal data to be used to send me TODAY newsletters, promotional offers and for research and analysis.