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World Down Syndrome Day 2017: Celebrating the Unsung Heroes

March 14, 2017
The Chan family after their weekly Aikido class at the Down Syndrome Association of Singapore

In collaboration with Down Syndrome Association (Singapore), A Better Florist gets up close and personal with the Chan Family to find out more about how they love, care and struggle with caring for family members with Down syndrome.

The Chan family after their weekly Aikido class at the Down Syndrome Association of Singapore

The Chan family after their weekly Aikido class at the Down Syndrome Association of Singapore

The Chan family walked through the door sporting full Aikido gear, filling the room with laughter, chatter and a familial warmth. Meeting the Chan Family was truly a warm surprise.

Mr. Patrick Chan introduced us to his lovely family of 6. There was his wife, Lily, eldest son, Shamus, second son, Sean who was born with Down syndrome, followed by Jonah and lastly, his youngest, Enoch who also has Down syndrome.

Caring for not only one, but two family members with Down syndrome is definitely a challenge but through our conversation with the Chan Family, we could immediately tell that this is a family where ‘family comes first’.


The initial shock

Although expert caregivers now, Patrick and Lily never had a personal encounter with someone who had Down syndrome. So it came as a huge shock to them when their second son, Sean, was born with the congenital disorder.

“When we were told [Sean] had Down syndrome, it’s like our whole world collapsed. I was stunned. It was our first encounter with Down syndrome and we didn’t know anything about it, the pediatrician warned us of the worst.” Fortunately, Sean was born as a high functioning child with Down syndrome and only had a speech impairment.

Three years later, Enoch came along and he developed Down syndrome soon after birth. Enoch’s health condition was much more severe and includes a hole in the heart and severe breathing problems, so much so that he had to breathe through a tube for over 10 years of his life.

Due to his breathing problem, Enoch had suffered many close shaves with death, which was a huge pressure on the Chan Family.  Patrick says, “We face a lot of challenges, especially when we travel. For example, we have to make sure we always have an electrical socket for [Enoch’s] breathing emergencies.”

Having a family member with Down syndrome doesn’t only affect parents, Patrick and Lily, Eldest son, Shamus also had to bear huge responsibilities for his younger brothers at the tender age of 6. However, Patrick and Lily are not the only who ones who take care of Sean and Enoch. Their eldest son, Shamus, also shares the responsibility of his younger brothers’ care at the tender age of 6.

Patrick recounts, “Shamus grew up very fast. When he was 6 years old, he had no choice but to handle Jonah who was born premature, with over 20 health conditions at birth, and help with physiotherapy and suctions for Enoch. He had a lot of additional responsibilities.”

Despite these challenges, the Chan family continues to strive to live each day to the absolute fullest, taking their difficulties in stride.

Coping with Aikido

Patrick instructing an Aikido class. Image credits: Aikido Tai Shin Kai

Patrick instructing an Aikido class.
Image credits: Aikido Tai Shin Kai

Interestingly, the Chan family has found a common love – Aikido. This has helped Sean and Enoch develop their motor functions and maintain a healthy weight throughout the years. Patrick has been a martial arts enthusiast since young, and was very active in pursuing it growing up. He influenced his son, Shamus, and together they went on to learn and master Aikido and learn the way of Harmony.

Patrick explains, “Aikido is the art of harmony, it trains you to have restraint and self control and to never give up. It is not about always winning, like other martial art forms.” This focus on harmony and the spirit of never giving up is something that has helped the Chan family cope with the challenges that have come their way.

Recounting the past years of Aikido training as a family, Patrick says “Aikido has really helped my sons, in terms of their motor skills, and reactions. Without Aikido, my sons would not be as fit and alert as they are now”. This is proven true by Sean, who proudly wears his black belt.

Now a full time Aikido instructor at Aikido Tai Shin Kai, Patrick and his son Shamus dedicate their time to spreading the love for the martial art. Additionally, they teach Aikido at the Down Syndrome Association (Singapore) to help other children with the congenital disorder.

A message of Hope

The Chan family sharing their experiences with A Better Florist

The Chan family sharing their experiences with A Better Florist

Caring for children with down syndrome can take a toll on a family, yet Patrick and Lily stay optimistic and choose to see it as a “blessing in disguise”.

“It is a frightening experience when someone tells you your child is down syndrome, but it’s not really that bad. I believe that if you look at it in a positive light, you have the strength that you are not aware that you have. As a parent, you are able to love the child and you’ll learn to love your child, and he or she will bring you a lot of happiness.”


They also encourage parents who have children with down syndrome that they are not alone.

“They are fortunate at this time that there’s Down Syndrome Association (Singapore) now. Initially, we felt very alone, as we didn’t know anything about down syndrome, and had to rely a lot on ourself and our family for support. We understand that now when there’s news of a down syndrome being born, someone is sent down to the hospital to help them”

In Patrick’s final words of love to parents and caregivers out there who might be struggling to come to terms with their children having Down syndrome, he emphasizes that you should never give up. He believes that there is unfounded strength within you to raise your child with love and you will undoubtedly find happiness along the way.

“The child will bring you a lot of joy. Don’t be afraid, love them and embrace them.”


Written by: Ulric Sng

Flower Guide

There’s A Better Florist In Southeast Asia Now

December 7, 2016

This article was first published on Forbes

A bouquet of flowers have had a timeless ability to convey so many different types of emotions like: ‘I love you’, ‘Congratulations!’ or ‘I’m sorry’. They have a magical way of changing a mood.

Florists are still the artisans making the flowers but the mobile on-demand era has changed the way they get ordered and delivered. With a goal to make a ‘thousand smiles a day’, a startup called A Better Florist is changing the florist market in Southeast Asia.

Founder Steve Feiner was motivated to start the business after an embarrassing and frustrating experience in the U.S. He ordered flowers for a special birthday, but they arrived the day after. He questioned himself, “How is this okay? How can companies still get away with it?” Other friends he talked to had similar problems. Then he saw an opportunity to do it better.

Feiner moved to Singapore with Google GOOGL -0.29% but left to start A Better Florist. Inside Google he could see that flowers were a very popular vertical. Search volumes were high and people spent a lot of money on ads. But he saw that the market was also fragmented, run by many family businesses and they were “leaving money on the table” by not always making people happy.

For someone looking to try it out, it works like this: You pick a bouquet from a limited selection of four types from any device, choose a delivery date, pay and it gets delivered on time for free. If you need it right away, the whole checkout process takes 2 minutes and the flowers are delivered within 90 minutes. Currently the service is only available in Singapore, although they have plans to expand into Kuala Lumpur soon.

All the flowers are sourced fresh from the Cameron Highlands in Malaysia. A mother of two makes sure they are all perfect before sending them to the office in Singapore, where they are handled by a professional local florist.

Feiner says his service is better for four main reasons: First, their flowers last twice as long since their only two days; second, the price is 20-30% cheaper because they bypass wholesalers; third, the limited curated selection of beautiful bouquets makes the decision easier and lastly, amazing customer experience.

Feiner is proud of all the happy customers who praise his company’s dedication.“If you blow away a customer and create that WOW moment, that’s all that matters. Everything else will follow. I feel blessed to make so many people smile. I get to make people smile for a living,” said Feiner.

In Silicon Valley, Y Combinator backed BloomThat raised an additional $5.5 million earlier this year. Now, the business offers adding gifts to your bouquet to impress even more.

A Better Florist provides same day delivery for fresh, hand-crafted flowers. We aim to be the best florist in Singapore. Each bouquet is stunning, long-lasting and handcrafted by our professional florists. We make it easy to send love to the people you love with our same day delivery. Follow us on Facebook and Instagram to get more promo codes and discounts off blooms!