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Former World’s Fastest Man, Asafa Powell and 400-metre hurdler, Janieve Russell, have thrown their weight behind the University of Technology, Jamaica’s (UTech) Alumni Association’s third annual Run/Walk for Excellence 5K as patrons.

The event, which is slated for November 18, was formally launched on the campus of the Papine, St Andrew-based University, on October 18.

Meet director, Allan Beckford, said that the set route will allow participants to journey along a pleasant course, starting from the UTech main gate; down Hope Road and onto Hope Boulevard, and then into Hope Gardens. They will then run back to the university, via Old Hope Road, ending on the playfield.

“It’s a very nice course, as its downhill, uphill and flat, therefore it has a little bit of everything,” Mr Beckford disclosed.

Emergency medical assistance will be provided by SureTime Medical.

The meet director said the race starts at 7:00 a.m.; it will be chip-timed and the results available, after the event via the registration site:  on: www.utechalumni.com

The entry fee is $1,200 and $600 for students.

President of the Alumni Association, Ronald Sutherland, says the proceeds of the event will focus squarely on establishing a pool of funds for needy students, who are academically sound, but are unable to pursue their education due to financial constraints.

“At the top of the line, is our seriousness about trying to prevent sparks of brilliance [from] going dim, because they don’t have the financial resources to fund their studies,” he said.

“Our commitment is to identify students with the attitude and aptitude to work, who have demonstrated that they are on the path to achieve excellence, but they are being impeded by financial circumstances; and, consequently, the revenue we generate from this Run/Walk 5K is for that and no other purpose,” Mr Sutherland underscored, indicating that the University has a special programme for students who excel in sports.

Vice president of the association and chair of the launch event, Sharon Smith, said that access to financing is far more limited for students today than in former years, pointing out that during her years at UTECH most students received grants to attend.

Her remarks were supported by alumnus Ryan Parkes, chief of business banking at one of the meet’s major sponsors, JN Bank. Mr Parkes emphasised that at this juncture in the country’s development, poverty should not be an excuse for qualified students not benefiting from a university education.

“We should be doing all that we can, to ensure that tertiary education is available to all Jamaicans no matter their class or creed,” he stated.

However, he said that, “Unfortunately, that has not been the reality for some students at the University of Technology, Jamaica, as many are forced to make tough decisions to discontinue their studies, or to place their academics on hold, because they do not have the financial resources to support their dream of achieving tertiary education.

Beyond raising funds for needy students, Mr Sutherland said the meet also provides an opportunity for the alumni to hone their relationship with the current cadre of students.

“We find that it’s a useful exercise in that it engenders mentorship and provides inspiration for those kids who are still here. So we exploit that opportunity when we are able to do that,” he affirmed.

The UTech Alumni Association’s Third Annual Run/Walk for Excellence 5K is being sponsored by Puma, Television Jamaica, Tropical Blue, SureTime Medical, JN Bank, JN General Insurance Company and Fyah 105 FM.