SECTIONS OF downtown Kingston will get a facelift this week as preparation for the Digicel Foundation 5K Night Run/Walk intensifies.
The October 26 run/walk will begin and end on Ocean Boulevard, at the Digicel headquarters and according to Judine Hunter, programme manager for special needs at the Digicel Foundation, the final touches are now being done.
One area that is being addressed is the matter of security, and the organisers are confident that this will not be an issue.
"Last year, the walk/run was a resounding success and incident free. Nothing untoward happened on the road, and if you are to look at the history books, the Grace run is held downtown, Sigma started downtown, and all these races end up incident free," said Hunter.
"Downtown is a safe and happy place for people to come and enjoy events of this nature," added Hunter, as she noted that private security and the police will be deployed on the route.
"So we are not particularly worried about any incident that might happen on the night."
Last year, Digicel reported 5,400 registered participants, plus an estimated 4,000 spectators and the event is expected to be bigger for the second staging.
"This year, we are aiming to significantly increase the numbers. We are aiming for at least 8,000 runners and walkers, and we are hopeful that again persons will come out to enjoy the event and the free concert that will follow," said Hunter.
Approximately 350 marshals will line the route with many volunteers coming from the communities in downtown.
Concert on the waterfront
The night walk/run will begin at 7 and the Digicel Foundation is planning for a fun event to be capped by a concert on the waterfront with some major entertainers and celebrities.
"Our brand ambassadors, Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, Alphanso Cunningham and Tifa, will start the races, and we will move from Ocean Boulevard, right pass the craft market, turning left on to Port Royal Street to the Urban Transport Centre and continue," said Hunter.
Participants will then move up King Street, around Parade, before heading down Church Street to return to Ocean Boulevard.
"This route is very similar to the one we did last year except that last year we started on Port Royal Street," added Hunter during a tour of the route last week.
Hunter noted that the roads will have adequate street lights.
"We are working closely with the KSAC (Kingston and St Andrew Corporation) to ensure that the roads are properly lit, and all the UDC (Urban Development Corporation) garages along here will be available for parking."
The Digicel Foundation once again intends to raise funds to support several special-needs schools and institutions across the island.
It expects to add to the $100 million raised so far by the foundation's special needs team.
"We are trying to do this for persons with special needs. We are trying to raise sufficient funds and build awareness about persons with special needs in Jamaica. This is just the little part that Digicel can play in this process," said Hunter.
Persons with mental and physical challenges are expected to benefit from the proceeds of the walk/run.
Twelve schools and institutions are scheduled to benefit from this year's events.
These include the downtown Kingston-based Early Stimulation Plus, NAZ Children's Centre, the STEP Centre, Mustard Seed Communities, the Jamaica Association on Intellectual Disabilities, Jamaica Autism Support Association and Jamaica Association for the Blind.