One of the biggest wellness events of the year is being split between Sunday in Cayman Brac and April 30 in Grand Cayman.

The Deputy Governor’s 5K Challenge, an annual walk/run, aims to raise $60,000 for the YMCA of the Cayman Islands.

Led by Deputy Governor Franz Manderson, the event has grown from a modest turnout of several hundred participants raising $12,500 for the new Cayman HospiceCare building four years ago, to one of the most anticipated events on the sports and wellness calendar.

Big turnout

“Last year, around 1,500 people took part and I am hoping to see up to 2,000 this time,” says Mr. Manderson, who attends many of the islands’ 5K charity events.

Having made a conscious effort to improve his own health by exercising and eating well, Mr. Manderson started the 5K in 2014 with the goal of leading by example.

As head of the civil service, he has been inspiring government employees and members of the community to get fit while raising money for a good cause.

The DG’s 5K Challenge is open to everyone.

“The event is really good fun and it’s a win-win activity for everyone,” says Mr. Manderson. “It encourages people to take care of their health, while at the same time benefitting various organizations that need our community’s support.”

Community benefits

In its second year, the DG’s 5K Challenge raised $50,000 to send athletes to the Special Olympics in Los Angeles. Mr. Manderson describes watching the Cayman Islands team on television as they entered the Olympic stadium as being one of the proudest moments of his life.

It was the same last year when the event brought in $60,000 to help the Cayman Heart Fund buy a new ambulance.

“When I saw the vehicle being handed over, it felt so good,” he says. “It’s an achievement we can all be proud of. People are very quick to point out the problems we face but instead of complaining, I urge people to be a part of the solution. This is what the DG’s 5K Challenge is all about.”

Focus on young people

This year Mr. Manderson has chosen to focus fundraising efforts on the young people of the Cayman Islands, which is why he selected the YMCA as the beneficiary of the walk/run.

“The YMCA is an internationally recognized organization and is doing great work with our youth here in the Cayman Islands, so I really want to support them,” he says.

The cash raised will be used to build a ropes challenge course in Grand Cayman to provide an alternative to classroom-style learning in areas proven to increase self-esteem, confidence and team-building skills.

This facility will provide participants with examples of ways to improve communication, awareness of themselves and others, and to gain leadership skills. The course will also help participants deal with fears, insecurities, depression, and anti-social behavior.

“Please come out and join us,” says Mr. Manderson. “We’re on the Brac this weekend to get the fun started and then next weekend we’ll have the big event on Grand Cayman. It doesn’t matter whether you walk or run, I’m looking forward to seeing everyone there.”

Registration and details of the event are on www.caymanactive.com/dg5k.

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