Tue | Jan 22, 2019

Mother's tale drives home Shaggy and Friends' mission - Bustamante Hospital fund-raiser on January 6

Published:Friday | December 8, 2017 | 12:00 AMShereita Grizzle
Francois Chalifour (left), director of Marketing, Wysinco, and Shaggy.
Recording artiste Shaggy speaking at Wednesday’s launch of the 2018 Shaggy and Friends concert at the Bustamante Hospital for Children, Arthur Wint Drive, St Andrew.
Dr Lambert Ennis (left) and Jacqui Tyson, event planner.
Yanique Forbes-Patrick (let), VP, Marketing, Public and Corporate Affairs, Bank of Nova Scotia, Jamaica, presents the bank's donation to Shaggy.

It's about more than just getting dolled up and heading out to see your favourite entertainers in action. It's about more than just the food.

It's about saving lives. And just in case anyone forgot the true purpose of the Shaggy and Friends concert, there were reminders at Wednesday's launch of its sixth instalment. It will be held on Saturday, January 6, on the lawns of Jamaica House.

A tear-jerking story from a mother whose son was at the brink of death served to drive home the point of the '1 ticket=1 life' Shaggy and Friends mantra at the Bustamante Hospital for Children, Arthur Wint Drive, St Andrew. Audrey Spence had the scare of her life early last month when she took her son to the hospital after he had begun vomiting, only to find out a few days later after his condition worsened that his young heart and lungs were quickly failing.

There was not a dry eye in the room as Spence recounted her 10-year-old son's near-death experience. She pointed out that had it not been for the life-saving equipment being readily available when he was admitted to the Intensive Care Unit, her story would have been very different.

"He was getting worse and the doctors were saying they wanted to get him up to University (the University Hospital of the West Indies), but they won't be able to because of what's happening with his heart. I remember the doctor coming to me and saying 'your son is very sick, his heart is failing and his lungs are failing,' and all I could do was scream ... . 'He's only 10. there's so much left for him to do'," she said, fighting back tears.

"God was good because when they got him into the recovery room, the room had all the equipment he needed for his heart, his lungs, his blood pressure ... . There was something in his nose, arms, everywhere, and these machines going 'beep beep beep'. When I eventually got to see him, they said he was stable," she said.




Spence encouraged persons to support the Shaggy and Friends initiative, pointing to her son as testament to the fact that the funds raised are being put to good use. "I knew that my son would have died had it not been for the help that this hospital has got," she said. "He said he felt like he was in a hotel because his needs were being met. Give, please, give. It's not going to waste," she said.

Perhaps holding back tears himself, Shaggy stressed why he had started the initiative. "Just in case anybody was wondering what it (the concert) is about, this is what it is about," he said. "This is what Jamaica is about: coming together and making a difference," he said. "Every other year, we try to put on a concert that is a stellar show, but the main goal is always to raise money. I always tell people that when they come to Shaggy and Friends, they should look at the show as one ticket equalling one life. When you buy platinum (ticket), you don't do it because yuh wah come out deh come floss. do it because you a save lives," he said.

"Look at the ticket as a donation. We jus a entertain yuh for it."

With the likes of Fetty Wap, Wyclef Jean and Sting being joined by a host of Jamaican acts, including Christopher Martin, Barrington Levy, Third World, Capleton, Aidonia, Dexta Daps, Junior Reid, Shenseea, Chaka Demus and Pliers, Professor Nuts, and Wayne Wonder, the show is expected to be unforgettable. Tickets are now on sale online at caribtix.com. Platinum tickets cost $25,000, while gold and silver will cost $12,000 and $6,000 respectively.

Already, the Bank of Nova Scotia has committed $5 million and Michelle and Frank Chalifour of Food For the Poor have donated US$30,000.