At the dinner reception to send off some 101 athletes overseas to qualifying competitions for the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, the Olympic Fundraising Committee handed over a cheque for CI$100,000 to overwhelming applause. The Chairperson of the Olympic Fundraising Committee, Betty Baraud, said the Olympics is not just about winning medals on behalf of the country. It is about the journey of years of disciplined practice and competition in their chosen sport and then coming together with athletes from other countries to participate in the largest peace event in the world.
‘Before an athlete can go to the Olympics, there are numerous pre-qualification competitions in other countries that young people must go to,’ said Ms. Baraud. ‘Travel and accommodation are by far the biggest expenses on the road to the Olympics, but many young people do not come from wealthy families who can afford to send them to the pre-qualification games.
‘To give young people a chance to go to the Olympics is so important for them as well as the country that it should not be limited to those families who have the means.
‘That is where the Olympic Fundraising Committee comes in – to raise the funds from generous sponsors within the community so every athlete can have a chance to earn their place on the World Stage, at the Olympic Games..’ As the mother of a former Olympic athlete, Ms. Baraud knows first hand the pride of the family as well as the country when a child makes it to the Olympics, which inspired her to spearhead the Olympic Fundraising Committee. Another Fundraising Committee member, movie director Louis Massicotte, discussed the energy and fervour in raising funds for these young athletes.
‘In many countries, sports are the only way for millions of kids to get out of poverty and give them hope for a better future,’ said Mr Massicotte. ‘What is achieved through the awareness of the Olympic spirit in Cayman is an ongoing message of hope and values. Not only for those who qualify as athletes but to all of the youth in which it touches.’
Fundraising Committee, Ninfa Arellano-Smith, said that although raising funds can be hard work – that does not mean it has to be boring for corporate sponsors. The Fundraising Committee takes pride developing new and creative ways to make it entertaining to give.