Now in its tenth year, the ‘Catch Jerry Chile’ (CJC) Fun-Run-Walk annual fundraiser event, with its dedicated core of organizers, in keeping with its’ anniversary, had as it’s goal this year to raise $10,000 – with all funds going to the Health Association of Central Eleuthera (HACE), an inimitable group of volunteers, led by Chairman Jason Thompson, who continue to provide essential emergency ambulance health services to residents in the Central Eleuthera area.
An energetic group of walkers and runners gathered under the cork tree in the middle of the James’ Cistern township during the early morning hours on Saturday, May 7th, 2022, for the CJC race with a start time of 6:30am sharp. Walkers would pace it to the beginning of the fenced area of the Governor’s Harbour airport before returning to the starting point for a total of about five miles. Runners, looking to catch up with Mr. Miska Clarke (Jerry’s Chile) – who is given a 5 second head-start, each year, ranged in age from 12-years-old to 72 years.
CJC committee member, Nurse Bernadette Colebrook, commenting shortly after the start of the run/walk, confirmed that CJC had indeed reached and exceeded its fundraising goals, saying, “So far this event has been very successful – we have exceeded the $10,000. Originally we said $10,000 for 10 years. HACE will benefit greatly, because of the great work that they do. Maintaining the ambulances is not an easy thing and its very costly. We are very happy that we will be donating even more than $10,000 this year… When everyone gets together, it makes it easier – everyone coming together to give their little part. Our corporate sponsors give sizeable contributions to the event every year, and individual people also give their sponsorship… Private (medical) services could never give all the care that people need, and there will always be persons who cannot afford private services – so we do appreciate the volunteer services that the Health Association of Central Eleuthera gives. It’s a tremendous thing. They go out of their way. I can recall the countless hours that they spend in emergency services. So I think its a tremendous job they are doing.”
Owner of Transformations Fitness Center in Lower Bogue, Mrs. Keyshna Kemp, was a first timer on the Saturday morning, and shared, “I always wanted to do this, so this is my first year. I’m just happy to be here, and to have completed it.” Her running partner, and brother-in-law, Pastor Martin Kemp who also serves as the Clinic Administrator for North Eleuthera Clinics, shared his thoughts on the role organizations like CJC play, saying, “These events are very important. There are so many people on our island and in our communities who are facing challenges as it relates to health issues, and so it is important to support organizations like ‘Catch Jerry Chile’, because they are making a difference. This is an exellent initiative, and I think as many people as possible should support. The island needs it.” As a runner in the morning race, he added, “I feel great. The last time I was in the race I walked, but this time I ran, and its exciting to be here. It’s always good to go after Mr. Clarke to see if you can catch up with him.”
Unbeaten on the morning, and catching his breath after yet again returning first in the line-up of runners, Mr. Miska Clarke, visionary and founder of the event, when asked about how he felt, following the ‘Catch Jerry Chile’ race, said, “It feels really good. This is our tenth year and we really wanted to make a statement… We give thanks to God and everybody for helping us. We thank our sponsors and everyone who supported us. Thanks again. This year we are donating all of the proceeds to HACE, every last cent… I would also like to say to everyone that ordered a t-shirt, if you look at the t-shirt its not a dress shirt, but a sports t-shirt, so we would really appreciate if everyone would use it to better themselves physically. Doctors don’t have the answers, only you can do it. The answers are right inside of you.” He encouraged Eleutherans to get up, and out and active. “Whatever you do, as long as you get a good sweat – that’s going to make a difference in your life. The number of Bahamians are too many with non-communicable diseases that can easily be prevented with a little bit of sweat – that’s it. Nothing else.”
As both beneficiaries of the event, as well as partners in ensuring that walkers and runners had access to emergency assistance on the morning, if necessary – HACE volunteers, including Chairman, Mr. Jason Thompson were also up and present on Saturday morning, along with two of the HACE ambulances. At the beginning of the morning race, Mr. Thompson expressed, “We are so appreciative of the effort that is going into this event today. As you know the Health Association of Central Eleuthera is a volunteer organization. So, we extend our services to the community at-large, and of course in doing that there are many expenses that have to be taken care of… Every donation, every contribution extends our efforts, making it possible to go so much further… CJC has partnered with us now for about three years and we are so appreciative of what they are doing and what the community is doing. Every person that is contributing should know that the monies are put to excellent use helping to save lives… We are extremely busy. The pandemic impacted the island, and the nation at-large, but as far as emergencies and people getting sick, and accidents – they have increased, so we stay very active, and are calling on all the support that we can get.
“We currently have three ambulances, with two based in Central (Palmetto Point/Governor’s Harbour) and one in Hatchet Bay. We have volunteers who take care of the ambulances and if ever there is a crisis, we combine together. We have six volunteers in Hatchet Bay, and in Central we have eight – all dedicated individuals who are always ready and willing to go. They are not paid. Even when on their jobs, they would leave in emergencies and do what has to be done. But the thing is doing it from the heart – that’s what makes the difference.”
Winners in the 2022 Catch Jerry Chile Fun Run/Walk event, receiving trophies for their efforts were: Runners – Miska Clarke (1st), Steven Dany (2nd), Thomas Glucksmann (3rd), and Sharon Davis (children’s category winner). Walkers were: Ross Bethel in 1st, Dwight Bethel in 2nd and Shanicka Davis in 3rd place.