BY HOWARD WALKER
Observer senior reporter
THE second staging of the Digicel 5K Night Run/Walk for Special Needs, set for October 26, was launched yesterday with Senator Floyd Morris throwing out a challenge to the participants to catch him if they can.
The visually-impaired Morris was the guest speaker at the launch held at the Digicel office in downtown Kingston, and he urged people to support the worthy cause.
"I was there last year and was looking at the screen to see myself, but I was nowhere around," said Morris.
"I noticed that the event will be organised in the night as was last year, ideal conditions because we are king of the dark, and so I say to those who will be participating, catch me if you can," said the government Senator to loud laughter.
He continued: "I want to implore all Jamaicans to come out and support this event because it is for a worthy cause and that $1,000 that they will be required to pay is going to impact in a fundamental way on the lives of some of the most vulnerable individuals within our country. That's $1,000 that will be well spent."
In keeping with its commitment to special needs, the Digicel Foundation is seeking to raise funds and increase awareness for the special needs community.
The beneficiaries will be Jamaica Association of the Deaf; Jamaica Association of Intellectual Disabilities; Jamaica Society for the Blind; Jamaica Autism Support Association; Jamaica Down's Syndrome Foundation; The Step Centre (School for Therapy Education and Parenting of children with multiple disabilities); Mustard Seed Communities; The NAZ Children's centre; Genesis Academy; Early Stimulation Plus; and Liberty Academy.
Samantha Chantrelle, Digicel Foundation's director, said her organisation spent $115m in the special needs sector last year and this year that figure has increased.
"I am happy to say that this is just the beginning. I welcome you to enjoy. It is going to be the most amazing event downtown," she noted.
The race will take place on Saturday, October 26, starting on Ocean Boulevard, at the Digicel headquarters, at 7:00 pm. It will proceed west along Ocean Boulevard, left onto Port Royal Street, around the bend onto Water Lane, right onto Pechon Street, then left onto Harbour Street, left onto King Street, left onto South Parade, right onto West Parade, right onto North Parade, then right onto East Parade to Church Street. It continues left onto Harbour Street, right at the corner of Exchange Place, right onto Port Royal Street, left at the corner of Duke Street onto Ocean Boulevard, and finishing at the same starting point.
All roads leading to the staging area will be closed to vehicular traffic between 6:30 pm and 8:30 pm. The course will feature water stops at the start/finish, and two along the course to ensure adequate hydration.
The event, which will also be sponsored by the Jamaica Observer, CVM TV, Irie FM, the Gleaner, KLAS ESPN KM, Catherine's Peak, SportsMax, Marksman and Island Grill, will cost $1,000 per person and entries are not refundable or transferable.
Individuals and teams can register online with either credit or debit cards at www.runningeventsja.com. Registration closes on Sunday, October 6 or upon achieving the event limit, whichever comes first.
Last year, the event was deemed a resounding success with 5,400 registered participants and an estimated 3,000 spectators.
The event has been fully endorsed by the Kingston and St Andrew Corporation (KSAC) and Mayor Angela Brown-Burke was on hand to give her blessing.
"We are extremely pleased to know that Digicel is attempting, once again, this activity. We are pleased for a number of reasons. Persons know we have been promoting downtown as the place to be, and those of us who are here know it
is the place to be," said Brown-Burke.