Robert Bailey, Gleaner Writer
Donovan Perkins, president and chief executive officer of PanCaribbean, organisers of the Sigma Corporate Charity Run, said his association will be aiming to raise over $50 million at next year's 14th staging of the event, which will be held on February 19 at Emancipation Park in New Kingston.
Perkins made the announcement last Wednesday during a press briefing at his company's office in New Kingston. He said the money will go towards the Chain of Hope Jamaica in support of the Bustamante Hospital for Children.
"Chain of Hope Jamaica is a registered charity that was founded in 2007. They were selected based on their deep commitment to the Bustamante Hospital for Children's Cardiac Programme," said Perkins.
"PanCaribbean wants to help these kids and through Chain of Hope and we, along with our patrons and sponsors, want to play an important role in the developing a sustainable paediatric cardiac programme at the Bustamante Hospital for Children," he said.
Continuing, Perkins said: "This programme will provide treatment for children suffering from heart diseases, develop an infrastructure, provide adequate vital medical equipment and trained skilled cardiac personnel, including cardiologists, anaesthetists, nurses and bio-medical engineers."
Perkins also disclosed that double Olympic sprint champion Usain Bolt would also be assisting to raise funds for the event through his foundation. Lady Allen, wife of the governor general, and R. Danny Williams are the other patrons for the event.
Dr Charmaine Scott, paediatric cardiologist and chairperson for Chain of Hope Jamaica, said about 400 children are born in Jamaica each year with congenital heart disease.
"We are extremely grateful for this because we have come a long way and, as you have seeing over the years, there is always an appeal for one child to go overseas, and what it costs to send one child overseas is the same cost to bring a team here," said Scott.
Dr Scott added: " ... Chain of Hope has been visiting and they have been doing missions for the last 15 years, and on average they do about 20 cases on each mission. Since the establishment of Chain of Hope Jamaica, we have been doing about 60 cases per year.
Scott said her organisation is planning to build a cardiac centre of excellence with an estimated cost of US$5 million. She added that they needed to do approximately 400 cases per year to clear the backlog.
The Sigma Corporate Run will partner with the National Health Fund. They have confirmed their participation by donating $3.5 million.
Last year, more than 15,000 participants took part in the event which raised over $15 million for the Victoria Jubilee Hospital's Neonatal Care Unit. Participation in the run is primarily by way of corporate teams, and the entry fee is $55,000 for a team of up to 75 persons, and a discounted rate of $700 for each additional person. Registration for the event will open on January 2 and closes on February 3.