Orville 'Shaggy' Burrell
HE is known globally as a dynamic performer and charismatic personality but there's also a philanthropic side to Orville 'Shaggy' Burrell.
Through his Shaggy Make A Difference Foundation, Burrell has significantly impacted the care provided at the Bustamante Hospital for Children (BHC). Burrell had always helped out, donating cash or kind. But on one visit, he saw a little girl with a bullet in her head, being kept alive by one of the machines he donated. "From that, I felt I had to do something else," he recalled. He wanted to do a show to raise money and from that it was suggested he start a foundation. But for that first show, convincing people was difficult.
"I invited potential sponsors into my home, something I don't do,” he said. "I wanted them to see that I was a serious person. People have this concept of DJs. I wanted them to realise I could be taken seriously." Another challenge was planning the show in only eight weeks. Dr Lambert Innis of the BHC was the one to sell the cause.
"Potential sponsors didn't know the number of children who died per day. Hearing the numbers shocked them. Those things touch people's heartstrings," he said. He solicited help from expert show organisers Walter Elmore and Sharon Burke, and through his own marketing efforts, the foundation began. Bringing in foreign acts with big names was a way to convince corporate Jamaica and the public to pay top dollar for tickets.
"The challenge was to get the acts to perform for free for a hospital that doesn't benefit them," he said. Juggling the sponsors' needs can also be challenging.
"Among our greatest accomplishments to date is that Shaggy and Friends is the only concert where competing brands come on board together," he said, adding that 'the cause' is still the main focus.
"We have raised the awareness. You can't lose sight of what needs to be accomplished." Burrell and cricketer Chris Gayle have plans to take the fund-raising global, especially to the diaspora, as there are persons willing and able to donate the kind of cash necessary to 'make a difference'.
"If we all get together as global celebrities ... we can come up with millions of dollars that can be useful. That is where my focus is."