FFP revolutionises race events with first-ever virtual race app
Trainer and founder of Go Run Jamaica Ferhandi Henry uses theFood For the Poor virtual race app to clock his time for Race ForHunger launched on June 1.

Food For the Poor Jamaica's Race For Hunger virtual race app, launched on June 1, is positioned as a game-changer for local charity race events.

The app, available in the Google Play and Apple Store, for FFTP's first-ever multinational 'Race for Hunger' is also the first of its kind for Jamaica. It allows persons to participate and raise funds during the month of June to help the poor.

Food For The Poor (FFTP) Jamaica has upped the ante through technology and will likely spur a change in how other local organisations host road races going forward. The app is interactive and allows users to post their progress on social media, share their donor link across messaging platforms and even recruit others to join the fund-raising aspect by creating their own profiles.

According to Marketing and Development Manager Marsha Burrell Rose, “With this app, Jamaicans at home and abroad can participate with ease. They are not only able to properly track their times and submit their results digitally, but they are also able to donate or even create their personal Food For The Poor donor pages to encourage their friends and families to support the cause.”

She added that, “Whether through the app or our website, the donor pages are updated real-time. That way, our supporters are able to monitor in real-time, how close they are to achieving their goal in helping their fellow Jamaicans in need.”

The virtual race allows participants to complete their races anywhere in the world, anytime during the month of June. It was conceptualised as a “COVID-19 appropriate” spin on the charitable organisation's annual 5K road race fund-raiser; FFTP's largest fund-raising initiative. With the flexibility that virtual races offer, Race For Hunger facilitates runners, walkers, wheelers and cyclists in various race distances — 5K, 10K, half-marathon and marathon events.

A number of groups and high-profile Jamaicans have already endorsed the month-long initiative and are encouraging others to support Food For The Poor. These include Go Run Jamaica; Pacers Running Club; local film-maker Garreth Daley; Paralympian Sasha-Gaye Thompson; international recording artistes Sean Paul, Julian Marley, Iba Mahr; producer, musician and writer Pablo Stennett; comedians Quite Perry and Dan Dan; Miss Jamaica Universe 2014 Kaci Fennell-Shirley; as well as Olympic medallist and former World Champion Yohan Blake and Jamaican football star Leon Bailey.

Just as well, the initiative has also garnered the support of sponsors Data Technologies Limited, WATA, Powerade, GraceKennedy, First Caribbean, Digicel Foundation, National Bakery, and Dees Imports.

Virtual races have become the new normal as the novel coronavirus pandemic caused a dramatic decline in large public gatherings and events in order to reduce the rapid spread of the virus. In previous years, as many as 50 road races were being held throughout the year across the island. That number has dwindled down to approximately 15-20 races — most of which are virtual, due to COVID-19 restrictions.

Despite the fact that vaccination drives are in full swing, the risk of COVID-19 is still a real and ever present danger for those looking to raise funds and host events with large gatherings of people. Nevertheless, Jamaicans have not lost their desire for being active or supporting worthy causes and with the new race app, they can do so from the convenience of their mobile device.

The multinational component of the event will see persons in the United States, Canada and Jamaica aiming to provide one million life-saving meals for families in need — across the 17 countries in which Food For The Poor operates.

Food For The Poor is hopeful that 38 houses can be provided for Jamaicans in need through the funds raised from this year's fund-raiser — in commemoration of its 38th anniversary this June.

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