They came out in hordes to support a great cause – and expectations are that the money raised from the 2015 Deputy Governor’s 5K Challenge will far exceed the $20,000 target to help Special Olympics Cayman Islands.
There were 1,248 participants on Grand Cayman and 113 participants on Cayman Brac for Sunday’s event. In George Town, it started and finished outside the Government Administration Building on Elgin Avenue.
More than $7,000 was raised in Deputy Governor Franz Manderson’s inaugural event last year, and there were at least double the number of entrants this time, and a much greater fundraising effort.
Proceeds will help the 28 athletes and 19 support staff going to the Special Olympics World Games in Los Angeles in July.
Among the Grand Cayman entrants who walked or ran were Premier Alden McLaughlin, Jennifer Ahearn, Cline Glidden, Joel Francis, Donald McLean and Derek Haines. The Special Olympics contingent had a massive presence too, with Andrew Smilley and Matthew Ebanks the fastest runners.
Governor Helen Kilpatrick congratulated everyone for their contribution and gave out prizes. “What a fantastic turnout, it’s more than double last year, which is a fantastic achievement,” Ms. Kilpatrick said, adding that she went to the recent launch of the Special Olympics trip and was immensely impressed with the athletes’ commitment.
“This event is fantastic,” she said. “To see so many civil servants participating… they’ve all been training hard. It’s got the whole community out as well. It’s great.”
Franz Manderson, who ran the 3.1 miles, said, “I’m not sure what my time was, but I really did have a most enjoyable time. Seeing everybody coming out here to support the Special Olympics athletes is absolutely amazing.”
He added that the huge number of participants “demonstrates the care and the community spirit that we have in Cayman and that must make us all very, very proud.”
Mr. Manderson has introduced a weekly run-walk program from the government building to help civil servants improve their fitness. He is extremely pleased with the results.
“People who were unable to walk a mile last year did three miles today, so it’s been absolutely amazing,” he said. “It’s been a real big hit for our wellness campaign, our community spirit and togetherness, so it’s hit all the major targets and exceeded expectations.
“With a crowd like this I’m hoping to double our fundraising target, so it’s going to be amazing.” Next year he hopes for 2,000 entrants.
Nick Freeland, chair of Special Olympics Cayman Islands, walked the event. “I’m suitably impressed,” he said. “We had 46 of our own team out here so that was a nice participation. There are not many events of this nature that have such big turnouts, so all credit to the deputy governor and his organizing committee.”