André Lowe, Senior Staff Reporter
It felt like a family get-together, and in some ways it was, as local-based food conglomerate GraceKennedy celebrated its association with sprinting darling Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, with a four-year extension to her endorsement deal and an appetising $686,157 towards her Pocket Rocket Foundation.
An impromptu choir of staff members 'sang' a tweaked Jolly Good Fellow and filled a room at the company's downtown Kingston head office with 'hip-hip hoorays' in homage to the 26-year-old's all-conquering season on the track, where she won three gold medals at the IAAF World Championships in Moscow, as well as the Diamond League sprint double.
Through their 'Buy Grace Vienna Sausages and support the Pocket Rocket Foundation', the company was able to raise funds earned from a percentage of the sales of their popular brand, which bears the image of the sprinting star on its packaging.
"It has been one of those relationships that I hold most dear to my heart, because it's a family and whenever I am here I am comfortable, so to be able to extend our contract to 2017 is a blessing and it's a relationship that I hope will continue growing from strength to strength and I look forward to working together as a team," a beaming Fraser-Pryce told The Gleaner shortly after the function.
"Being a part of this company has definitely strengthened me and helped me to be a part of many positive things and I am happy that they decided to continue with this partnership," added Fraser-Pryce, who also received a specially crafted rocket-shaped earring and pendant set, which goes well with her 'Pocket Rocket' moniker.
'Greatest female athlete'
GraceKennedy CEO, Don Wehby, who fancies himself the double Olympic champion's biggest fan, lauded the athlete's determined approach.
"We are proud of you, not because you are the greatest female athlete Jamaica has ever produced, but because of the qualities that you demonstrate to us at Grace and I want to say thank you," said Wehby.
"Today, we are signing off with Shelly-Ann, a renewal of her contract for another four years with Grace Kennedy. That's the legal part of it, because as far as I am concerned Shelly-Ann is a GraceKennedy family member and she will be our brand ambassador for life," Wehby added.
GraceKennedy Foods CEO Michael Ranglin was also pleased about the contribution to the athlete's charity efforts.
"Right now, we have raised just over $686,000 since the campaign started in June. We have handed over $500,000 already and we are handing over another $150,000 this month."