THE Riversdale Health Centre in St Catherine, and four other health facilities, are to benefit from a donation of just over $5 million (US$35,000) which was raised at the Jamaica Hi-5 5K Run/Walk in Miramar, Florida, last Saturday.
The run/walk was staged to generate funding for the health centres which have been adopted by the Consulate General of Jamaica in Miami under the leadership of Consul General Oliver Mair. He described this year’s run/walk as the largest staging in the four years that it has been held.
Mair, who is excited by the success of this year’s staging, shared that discussions are already taking place on how to make each year going forward bigger than the previous.
“It’s a huge success; we had well over 1, 000 people in attendance. The race took place in six cities simultaneously in Miramar, Orlando, Houston, Atlanta, Phoenix and Birmingham. This is a great example of the Diaspora pulling together and working together. All the funds from the programme go towards providing support for primary health care in Jamaica.
“Next year, for our fifth anniversary, we plan to double the numbers and we plan to work with other organisations like Food For the Poor who have said they would like to come and partner with us in providing extra support to, not just these clinics but to surrounding communities. I want to thank the Diaspora for their overwhelming support; we could not do it without them. People from all nationalities enjoyed great food, reggae music, coffee, fruit punch and entertainment,” said Mair.
Mayor of Miramar Wayne Messam, whose parents Delsey and Hubert Messam are from Jamaica, hosted Saturday’s event. He said one of his goals is to get people, especially those of Caribbean descent, to take their health seriously.
Messam highlighted that there is room to expand the programme and encourage more people from the running community to participate, even if they don’t have Jamaican heritage.
“We need to broaden this beyond the Diaspora. South Florida has a very large running community and many of the participants today are just supporters of Jamaica. If we expand it to the broader running community it can be three times the size that it is right now. We are really looking forward to expanding our reach so the event grows and grows every year. It’s one of my favourite events,” said Messam.
“Health and fitness is one of my core initiatives in the city of Miramar so when I get an opportunity to partner with Consul General Oliver Mair to support clinics in Jamaica, it was a no-brainer. We are always promoting to, especially our Caribbean community, that they must take their fitness and wellness serious and make it a priority because the fitter we are and the healthier we are, the better we can be for our families and our broader communities,” added Messam.
Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade Senator Kamina Johnson Smith was in Florida for the event and thanked the Diaspora for its commitment to supporting projects in Jamaica.
“Members of the Diaspora have always felt the need to give back and help to build. Ultimately many of them dream to retire in Jamaica or have a second home there. Events like this raise funds in a targeted way to support rural communities and health care.
“The Government of Jamaica is blessed to have Oliver Mair here. We have Alsion Wilson, a great consular general in New York as well. Both are doing phenomenally,” said Johnson Smith.
The event event also attracted Florida Congresswoman Debbie Wassermam Schultz.
She argued that, “The Jamaican community is such a critical part of the success of our economy and our community. We are so fortunate to have such a large Jamaican population in our country.”
The event’s female winner, Theresa Mari, said she had an amazing experience.
“It’s my first time ever placing first female overall so I am very happy and grateful to all the people who got me to accomplish this, especially the Miramar Run Club and our coach Ivan who trained us everyday to be where we want to be. The race was tough, especially because of the weather, having run in the winter where the weather is much cooler. This was like my first summer race. My body had to get used to the heat,” said Mari.
In the meantime Kevin Channer, the winner of the male category, said he had a good race and remarked that the temperature was not bad.
“It was a strong race. I had a good time and I enjoyed myself,” said Channer.