The Special Olympics program will get a welcome boost from this weekend’s latest fundraiser.
Hundreds of runners and walkers will descend on the Government Administration Building on Elgin Avenue for the 2015 Deputy Governor’s 5K Challenge on Sunday. Walkers start at 6:30 a.m. and runners at 7 a.m.
It is the second staging of the event that brings together civil servants, private sector employees and the general public in a fitness and fundraising challenge as part of Deputy Governor Franz Manderson’s campaign to have a healthier, more active and more socially engaged civil service, while benefiting charitable organizations and initiatives in the Cayman Islands.
Proceeds will go to the Special Olympics Cayman Islands programs and to help the 28 athletes and the support team who will travel to the Special Olympics World Games in Los Angeles in July.
“We are looking forward to this year’s DG’s 5K Challenge to be bigger and better than ever,” said Manderson, who will run it again as he did last year. “We not only want to raise more funds and participation, but we also want to raise the bar for us all to challenge ourselves as a community to support our SOCI athletes.”
The aim is to raise at least $20,000 and considering the masses who entered last year’s inaugural event and raised $7,000, that looks like an achievable target. This time, there has been much more promotion and interest from participants and sponsors alike.
Cayman Islands HospiceCare was the recipient of last year’s event. Derek Haines, the local marathoner who raised $1 million for HospiceCare, will be in this event again.
Celebrated swimmer Andrew Smilley, who is in the Special Olympics squad, said, “I’m really looking forward to the Games and I’m happy that I’m going. This is my first time going to L.A. and I’ll really enjoy it when I go there.”
Jennifer Ahearn, the event’s co-chair, said, “We’re super excited. We’ve got some fantastic sponsors on board and will have some soca-cise [exercise] before we get started and some yoga at the end to stretch you out. “We’re really excited and want people to come out and support us.”
Acting Deputy Governor Gloria McField said, “Special Olympics is something our entire staff base has been really excited about. It’s not every day that you get to support a gold medalist like Andrew, and the fact that we’re able to make a difference to the Special Olympics and able to send a much larger delegation this year, we really wanted to be a part of that.”
McField added that people in the Brac are also participating in their own event.
Penny McDowall of the Lighthouse School, said, “I’m so proud of our community. It is such an amazing thing to see these athletes come out and shine. It’s a life-changing experience for them.”
Registration is under way at the Government Administration building on Elgin Avenue. There are discounts for groups of 10 registering at the same time, and there will be trophies and awards, and random prize draws for all participants and volunteers.