Tue | May 30, 2023

Several charities benefit from Guardsman Games

Published:Friday | February 28, 2020 | 12:00 AM
Kenny Benjamin (second left), executive chairman of the Guardsman Group, presents proceeds of the 2019 staging of the Guardsman Games to Christina Hudson (second right) and Amanda Lechler of the Kind Hearts Foundation. Looking on is Minister of Health and Wellness Dr Christopher Tufton.

Being health conscious and charitable are virtues that are not commonly paired together, but security firm Guardsman Group through its foundation arm, has been successful at designing the Guardsman Games, to promote both among participants.

The Guardsman Games is Jamaica’s first and only obstacle course race event for charity. The six-kilometre course takes participants through rugged terrain and challenges them with more than 25 obstacles such as walls, monkey bars, climbing ropes, and more. First staged in 2016, the Guardsman Games has become a signature event for hundreds of fitness enthusiasts, who flex their mettle for good causes.

The games consist of three events – the Guardsman Challenge, a six-kilometre obstacle race with more than 20 obstacles that also acts as a qualifying race for the Obstacle Course Race (OCR) World Championships. There is the exciting Power Games, which is a team event that involves groups of four – two women and two men – competing against each other through a number of challenges and obstacles. And lastly, there is a component for children with the Tuff Kids Race. The Tuff Kids Race is targeted at schoolchildren.

However, with the ultimate goal of the games, which is held on the grounds of the Hope Zoo in St Andrew, being to raise much-needed funds for charities that focus primarily on Jamaica’s youth, the beneficiaries of the 2019 Guardsman Games were handed cheques representing donations from the proceeds on Tuesday at Guardsman Group’s head office on Old Hope Road, St Andrew.

The beneficiaries include: Bustamante Hospital for Children, Kind Hearts Foundation and Sarah’s Children Advocacy Group.


This year’s donation to the Bustamante Hospital for Children, which has received the equivalent of $2 million in kind to date, will go towards expansion of a solar energy system to power the ­intensive care unit.

The solar energy system, which is installed by Future Energy Group, has generated over 7,000 kWh annually, with estimated savings of around $300,000. The donation from the 2019 Guardsman Games will be used to extend the current solar energy system, which is expected to generate some $28 million in savings on energy costs over the next 20 years for the hospital.

The Kind Hearts Foundation, which has received $2 million in donations from the games so far, focuses on community housing and education needs for underprivileged families in Jamaica.

The charity works with Food For The Poor Jamaica to construct, at a cost of between US$62,000 and US$80,000, six- or eight-unit basic school structures, in keeping with the requirements of the Ministry of Education.

Sarah’s Children Advocacy Group, a new beneficiary for the Guardsman Games, is an advocacy group formed with the objective of caring for and protecting children and the elderly, particularly those who are disabled.

For good reason, communication director of the Guardsman Foundation, Lieutenant Commander George Overton, explained at Tuesday’s event that this year’s games are being postponed in order to facilitate preparation for staging next year at an earlier time than July.

According to him, the summer heat proved too much for some participants last time, so the decision is to move up the event to March, 2021 when the weather is more conducive to the rigorous activities.

“As most of you would recall, we had challenges with the weather. We had our 2017 games down in October and, as many of you would remember, we had challenges with huge clumps of mud … . So we shifted and tried to get the edge of summer, and we suffered from the heat in our July event,” Overton explained. “This year, we decided we would probably have to forego an event to get it up in the region of the month of March,” he continued.

So, “the next staging of the Guardsman Games is going to be on March 21, 2021,” Overton announced. Importantly, participants with qualifying times from the obstacle course race in the 2019 games will still be able to participate in the world event scheduled for this October in Vermont, United States of America.