The streets are pretty dark in downtown Kingston at night. The daytime noise and scramble dies down. The waters of Kingston Harbour are still.
But next month, I can guarantee bright lights – and noise! The Digicel Foundation (and many Jamaicans) will be “shining a light” – with the help of a number of superb local sponsors – on the plight of Jamaicans with special needs. The Foundation’s second 5K Night Run/Walk will start on Saturday, October 26 at 7:00 p.m., leaving Digicel’s headquarters on Ocean Boulevard. The event will raise funds for eleven organizations: NAZ Children’s Centre, Genesis Academy, the STEP Centre, Mustard Seed Communities, Liberty Academy, Early Stimulation Plus, the Jamaica Association on Intellectual Disabilities, Jamaica Autism Support Association, Jamaica Association for the Blind, Jamaica Association for the Deaf and the Jamaica Down’s Syndrome Foundation (JSDF). The Digicel Foundation has really chosen a worthy cause to support. Many of these organizations are badly in need of funding, and the plight of men, women and children with special needs is often overlooked. The Run/Walk will supplement the J$100 million that the Foundation has already invested in the sector – an impressive sum.
You notice I call it “Run/Walk.” You can do either. Last year I walked at a fairly sedate pace, while the young, eager ones flew on ahead. It was a beautiful night; the air crackled with energy. Music greeted us on every street corner. And there were literally thousands of us! In fact, Digicel says there were more than 5,400 registered participants and an estimated 3,000 spectators. They are hoping for more this year (so I am expecting you, dear readers, to get up off that comfortable Saturday night couch or bar stool and get running/walking!) It was quite a historic moment, too – the first night walk in Jamaica or the Caribbean. Yes, Jamaicans like to do things a little differently!
The very first person to sign up for the event at the September 4 launch was Alfonso Cunningham, Jamaica’s gold-medal winning Paralympian and a Digicel Brand Ambassador. Mr. Cunningham is quite a celebrity and a wonderful example of grit and determination.
On your marks! Let’s go, and let’s help Jamaicans with special needs live a better life.
(And hurry up, please! Registration closes on Sunday, October 6 – or when numbers reach the event limit, whichever comes first).
- Individuals and teams can register online with either credit or debit cards at http://www.runningeventsja.com.
- A donation of J$1,000 is requested per person. Entries are NOT REFUNDABLE or TRANSFERABLE.
- Race numbers can be collected between Tuesday, October 22 and Friday, October 25 from 10:00am to 3:00pm at the Digicel Headquarters.
A note on the Digicel Foundation:
The Digicel Foundation is the largest local private sector foundation in Jamaica. Since its inception in 2004 the Foundation has invested over J$1.2 billion in communities in which Digicel operates islandwide. The Digicel Foundation has been proactive in the areas of Education, Special Needs, and Community Empowerment.
The Digicel Foundation has:
Invested over J$100 million in their Enrichment Initiative in partnership with the Ministry of Education to improve literacy at the primary school level islandwide.
Invested over J$38 million in resource rooms, including science and IT labs, in high schools island-wide.
Committed to building three Special Needs schools, two of which, the STEP Centre, and NAZ Children’s Centre broke ground in 2012.
Invested over J$60 million in Community Empowerment initiatives over the past four years, including $10 million annually and $15 million in 2012 to support the National Best Communities Competition and Program.
Invested $13 million in the ‘Back to Roots—Stronger Roots, Stronger Communities, Stronger Nation Project.’ The program aims to help community organizations become more self-reliant by facilitating their transition to social enterprises, by teaching them how to run sustainable community businesses.