He has needed a walking aid to get around since the age of five but Abdul Matin wanted to connect with his idol, Singapore swim star Joseph Schooling, with his hands.
The 17-year-old student's hand-made Nila plush toy was among 50 showcased at a presentation of the Singapore Book of Records certificate for The Largest Display of Handmade Plush Toys at the Singapore Sports Hub yesterday.
Nila is the mascot for the upcoming SEA Games and some 4,739 have been made.
Born with cerebral palsy, the avid swimmer from Siglap Secondary School said: "I just wanted to give Joseph - whom I have watched swim since I was eight - a simple message, 'All the best', to motivate and give him courage.
"As a fellow Singaporean, I want to give him a boost after all the inspiration he has given me.
"Hopefully, he will be able to win a medal and receive my Nila."
Originally designed by Beatrice Cho in 2012, the Make-a-Nila initiative encourages the public to sew their toy and design its outfit with a personal message.
The plush toys will be given to all 1,327 medallists from 36 sports.
With almost 13,000 people involved in creating these Nila plush toys, Toh Boon Yi, chief, community and corporate outreach, Singapore South-east Asian Games Organising Committee, declared the Make-a-Nila initiative a success.
He said: "We are delighted to have exceeded our initial target of 4,500 personalised Nila toys.
"It is a meaningful activity that has allowed the community to contribute directly to the Games and leave a personal tribute to the medallists.
"The excess Nila toys will be given to communities to commemorate their journey over the Games."
This article was first published on May 8, 2015.
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