It was a morning for inspiration, and the launch of the eighth annual CB Group/UWI 5K, last Wednesday at The University of the West Indies' (UWI) Regional Headquarters in Kingston began fittingly with a testimony from a successful former recipient.
Emcee and CB/UWI 5K Ambassador Jezeel Martin held the audience rapt with his life journey from the gritty streets of August Town to the halls of the university and the gilded corridors of one of Kingston's legendary law firms, a journey made possible in no small part by the CB/UWI 5K scholarship award.
Describing himself as “privileged” by virtue of the award and the education and career it afforded, Martin encouraged this year's awardees to “pay it forward” with their time as much as, or even more than their material resources.
The “pay it forward” theme was a recurring one from patrons, sponsors and even the awardees as the event, dubbed 'Running for Dreams ', was officially presented. The run, which will be staged on Sunday, November 10, 2019, is the major annual fund-raiser for The University of the West Indies Scholarship Fund, and continues to attract thousands of corporate and individual running and walking enthusiasts whose participation and generosity assists students realising their dreams of furthering their education at the university level.
This year's event will again be under the patronage of three outstanding philanthropists — Mrs Thalia Lyn, business leader and Honorary Consul of Thailand to Jamaica, Dr Douglas Orane, retired business leader and author, and Dr Donette Chin-Loy Chang, global connector/communications specialist and co-patron of The UWI Toronto Benefit Gala.
The first of the two patrons to speak, Chin-Loy Chang, urged the scholarship awardees to “stand up for what is right”, naming social justice, climate change and diversity action among the areas of focus. The previous generation, she said, had made serious mistakes in its stewardship of the planet, and it was up to the promising youth among the scholarship group to help remedy that.
Lyn, the 2019, PSOJ Hall of Fame awardee, echoed some of the themes of her sister-in-law, challenging the students to “be aware, be engaged and be nice to one another and the environment”.
CB Group executive board member Hubert Blair, who himself benefitted from studying at The UWI through a separate sponsorship programme, called his tenure at the university as “the defining moment” of his life and career. Noting that the eight-year-old event had generated over $100 million since inception, he said the company was keen on building a legacy of support for education and was working to deliver even more scholarships than previous years.
In addition to the overall group awards, the launch also saw the presentation of scholarships and donations from individuals and corporate entities. Included among these was a scholarship from dancehall icon Moses “Beenie Man” Davis, who gifted entertainment and culture student Renee Edwards.
Speaking afterwards, the entertainer noted his long association with the institution, first as a performer with the famed 'Spectrum' show in the early 90s, and to the present, with two daughters — Krystal and Ikera — attending The UWI and his partner Khrystal Tomlinson, a graduate of the university.
Another very personal contribution came from race director and head of Running Events, Alfred “Franno” Francis, who gifted Shantal Dorma with the inaugural Claudia Francis Carrignan Annual Scholarship, named in honour of his late sister, who died of cancer in 2018.
Thalia Lyn presented the Island Grill Scholarship to law student Karre Finnigan. Media personality Miss Kitty, who was not present at the launch, renewed her own scholarship donation, initiated last year, to former Calabar Head Boy Jevonte Webster. There were also presentations from PROVEN Investments, Mayberry Jamaican Equities, and Gore Developments Limited.
There was more inspiration from another scholarship awardee, actuarial student Marvin McLeod, who related his arrival, virtually destitute, from Clarendon, the humiliation he endured as a result, and the arduous struggle to finance his education prior to receiving the award.
UWI Vice-Chancellor for Global Affairs Ambassador Richard Bernal made note of the university's ranking in the top five per cent of universities globally as one of the main reasons to support initiatives such as the CB Group/UWI 5K scholarship run, adding that the institution laid “an unmatched foundation” in the personal and academic development of its students.
According to event manager Elizabeth Buchanan-Hind, executive director, advancement, UWI: “It is quite heartening to us the response that we have received from corporate Jamaica and individuals, and equally heartbreaking to hear the struggles of the students in their quest to remain at the institution.”
The 2019 corporate sponsors to date include: National Baking Company, National Commercial Bank Foundation, Port Authority, PROVEN Investments, GraceKennedy, Mayberry Investments, Rainforest Seafood, Gore Developments, Island Grill, Jamaica Producers, CB Facey Foundation the charitable arm of PanJam Investment, Power106, Jamaica Pegasus, Nationwide, Dunlop Corbin, LASCO Jamaica, Visual Vibe Ltd, iPrint Digital, The Jamaica Observer, It's Pixel Perfect, Newstalk 93FM, Sun City Radio, Running Events and RJR Gleaner Communications Group Limited and the G Raymond Chang Family.
Each year the university takes the opportunity to honour someone who has made outstanding contribution to sports.
The 2018 honoree was gold medal Olympian Omar McLeod. Past awardees include Olympian Asafa Powell, Molly Rhone for her service in the field of netball; Dr Michael Fennell, former president of the Jamaica Olympic Association; Glen Mills, head coach, Racers Track Club; and Alfred “Frano” Francis, managing director, Running Events Limited.
Last year the event attracted nearly 5,000 people and the numbers are expected to surpass that figure.
Registration is now open at www.runningevents.ja.com or at the Sports Department at The University of the West Indies.
Entry fee is $1,200 for adults and $600 for students. Groups of 50 or more will receive a discounted fee of $1,000 and $500, respectively.