The London Olympics may be three years away but there is a lot of fundraising to do in the meantime.
Four Olympic athletes represented Cayman last year; the Fraser brothers, Shaune and Brett in swimming and in track sprinter Cydonie Mothersill and hurdler Ronald Forbes.
Had it not been for the remarkable efforts of the Cayman Islands Olympic Fundraising Committee, that talented quartet may not have made it to the Beijing Games.
It wasn’t just that trip to China that needed funding but all the build up Games and meets, training camps, coaching and medical back up. There are many more sportsmen and women who need assistance too.
The government and private sector help but the fundraising committee provides essential finance to make it all possible.
The committee was formed in 1992 by Betty Baraud, whose son, Stefan, competed in the 1992 and 1996 Olympics.
Baraud has kept the momentum going and now raises hundreds of thousands of dollars for not just the Olympics but for other athletes to compete in regional and international tournaments too.
For example, Dow Travers will be competing as Cayman’s first Winter Olympian in Vancouver, Canada, in February.
Friday night was the first of the many fundraising events Baraud and her team of equally committed volunteers organised – and what a great one it was!
Emcees were Sheena Hurlstone and the incomparable Rhyal Gallagher.
Held at the swish Luca restaurant on West Bay Road, there were plenty of tickets sold despite the $150 asking price. An auction and sponsorship raised tens of thousands so it was worth all the sweat and energy to put together.
Entitled ‘Building Hope for Gold’ this event was unique in that many prominent members of Cayman society were brave enough to provide entertainment on stage.
They included Truman Bodden in boxing gear – all 134 pounds of him – ready to take on Tyson, and impersonators of ABBA, Michael Jackson, John McEnroe, Barack Obama, Gordon Brown and Michael Phelps.
The ABBA quartet amused all and special thanks should be given to Mike Brown, Avril Brophy, and Keith and Francis Griffen who might have made it as pop stars under slightly different circumstances.
The entertainment was jokingly called Project Runway Featuring Cayman’s Elite Sports Illustrated Models.
It started with a welcome from President Obama and Prime Minister Gordon Brown aka Darren Trickett and Roger Prialux who were escorted by Cristin Alexander and Bianca Leacock.
Truman Bodden looked in great shape for a 64-year-old as ‘Rocky T’. Michael Joseph was the brat McEnroe. The Olympic Panda with Kung Fu Dance were Sebastien Guilbard and Timothy McCarthy.
Bill Fleury came on as Lance Armstrong. The Cayman flag bearer for the summer 2012 Olympics was Patrick Broderick.
Cayman’s first-ever fencing team was Kim Lund and James Bovell dressed in turtle suits.
A Samoan warrior dance was provided by Max Hillier.
The camp Bruno character was expertly played out by Graham Hampson.
A hilarious tribute to MJ came from Everard Leacock. No moon walk but at least he got some enthusiastic women screaming.
Chazz Michael Michaels and Jimmy MacElroy were played by Shawn Lunt and Andi Marcher.
Bart Hedges came on as a shorter and chunkier version of Michael Phelps, but he did walk away with eight golds.
Ian Dawson James was the British bulldog. The DJ was Oneworld Entertainment.
The auction was a limited edition Baccarat necklace donated by Kirkfreeport and a trip for two to the Vancouver Winter Olympics 2010, including airfare, accommodations, and entrance to three Alpine events.
The necklace went for $1,600, bought by Olympic Committee president Donald McLean and the tickets for $12,000 were bought by Jane Moon so that was a good start.
Then the sponsors were announced. Mr and Mrs Charles Jennings came on board as gold sponsors for $15,000. Deloitte and Greenlight are also gold sponsors with $10,000 each. The silver sponsors on $5,000 are KPMG, Cayman National, and Deutsche Bank. The bronze
sponsors on $2,500 are Campbell’s, Chrissie Tomlinson Hospital, Queensgate, and Transocean. There were also $1,000 donations from CUC, Dr. Florence Enescott, McCormicks, and Big Daddy’s.
Baraud thanked many and gave special thanks to all the sponsors particularly Luca, Lions Productions, Massive, Fireworks Limited, and West Indian Marine.
Besides Baraud the fundraising committee comprises of; Nicole Wild Merl, who is the creative director, Carlene Alexander, Monica Czorny, Laurice Fraser, Judy Ann Ebanks, Avril Gallagher, Lori Powell, Lana Cayasso, Michael Bowman, Therese McCann, Louis Massicotte and Ninfa Smith.
Donald McLean gave his usual humorous speech. One classic line was: ‘My wife, Jennifer, has just been made Chief Officer for Sport. The first thing she did was to cut my funding so that I can’t travel much!’