Two medical facilities in eastern Jamaica will be the main beneficiaries of this year's staging of the 23rd Sagicor Sigma Corporate Run, which will be done mostly virtual this year because of the ongoing novel coronavirus pandemic, it was announced yesterday at a virtual press launch.
Annotto Bay Hospital in St Mary and Port Antonio Hospital in Portland have been selected by the organisers of the signature charity race which has set a target of $50 million to be raised.
According to a release from the organisers, “In 2020, the Sagicor Sigma Run raised a record $55.3 million in cash and kind for three beneficiaries — the Bustamante Hospital for Children, the Clifton Boys' Home and the Savanna-la-Mar Hospital.”
Additionally, it was also announced that Sagicor “will also be developing a one-year educational programme to get the nation's children back on track with their education as many students' school routine was significantly disrupted due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Tablets will also be purchased to support students who are unable to afford the device for online learning.”
Race Director Alfred Francis made a commitment of “a six-figure donation” to the race, telling the press launch that he was born at the Port Antonio facility. He added that the race would be run virtually between February 12 and 28, and that there would be a special race for invited persons only on February 21 in New Kingston.
The participants in the virtual race will be required to run or walk a distance of 5.5K between February 12 when the deadline for entries close, until February 28, and then upload their videos and times to a website.
Francis, who also organises the Reggae Marathon which was held virtually last month, said the format “widens the scope for more persons to take part”, pointing out that participants from 30 countries took part last month.
He said the participants can do the event as often as they like and submit their best effort, but the invitational race will have no more than 100 participants, which comprised the top 10 finishers in several categories from the last three years.
The invitational race, he said, would be over a shorter course, 2.75K, and will have three different starts, and COVID-19 protocols will be strictly enforced.
Marsha Lee, chief executive officer of the Annotto Bay Hospital, and Althea Gardner, chief executive officer of the Port Antonio Hospital, expressed their gratitude for their hospitals being chosen as beneficiaries.
Lee, who was in charge of a Type C institution that has been operating as a Type B due to the demands, said: “We are also a referring hospital for Port Maria and Port Antonio hospitals, and as a result our resources are significantly stretched; and many times, with the limited equipment, we have to improvise to save our patients.”
Gardner, through a release, expressed similar sentiments sharing that the donation will help to procure much-needed medical equipment for the maternity and paediatric wards thereby improving the overall well-being of mothers, infants and children in the hospital's care.
“In addition to ventilators, incubators and warmers, we are also in need of delivery beds, portable X-ray machines and CTG machines,” Gardner said.
Alysia White, executive director of the Sagicor Foundation, said, “The beneficiaries remain at the forefront of why we do Sigma Run, and we are asking all Jamaicans, at home and abroad, corporate Jamaica and individuals to help us in giving back to our health and education sectors.”
President and CEO of Sagicor Group Jamaica, Christopher Zacca, in his address, said: “This year, for the first time in the history of the Sigma Corporate Run, our enthusiastic supporters will not be able to physically gather in their thousands in support of the cause; but, while we are not able to come together in the usual fashion, we can still unite for the common cause to support this year's worthy beneficiaries.”