Barbadian athletes participating in the upcoming Pan Am Games in Toronto, Canada, in July and August, will benefit from an infusion of funds, thanks to the Barbados Ball Canada Aid (BBCA).
The BBCA, a non-profit organization based in Toronto, pledged CAN$15,000 (approximately BDS$32,000) to the Barbados Olympic Association to help prepare the athletes for the games being held for the first time in Canada’s largest city. In its 64-year history, the games were held twice in Canada –– both times in Winnipeg, Manitoba.
The BBCA is in the midst of preparing for its signature event –– the Barbados Ball –– set for Saturday, June 13, at the Pearson Convention Centre in the City Of Brampton located north-west of Toronto.
This is the 12th year the prestigious gala will be held; and, with a focus on the Pan Am Games, the theme is Reppin’ The Rock –– Making Us Proud. To celebrate, the BBCA will honour two Canadians of Barbadian heritage for their outstanding achievements in the area of sports. The recipients are decathlete Michael Smith and track and field star Marita Payne-Wiggins.
Smith holds the Canadian record in the decathlon and the world’s best performance for the three combined throwing events in decathlon (shot-put, discus and javelin). A gold medal winner at the Commonwealth Games in 1990 and 1994, Smith ranked in the top ten in the world for ten years in a row from 1989 to 1998, with his highest rankings being No. 2 in 1991 and No. 3 in 1995.
Smith, who resides in Calgary, Alberta, is a sports television commentator for track and field events.
Payne-Wiggins, who competed in two consecutive summer Olympics in track and field, holds two silver medals as a member of the 4x100m and 4x400m relay teams at the 1984 Olympics. A two-time record 400-metre champion, she is the co-holder of Canadian 400 metres record (49.91) and Canadian 200 metres record (22.62).
She was inducted into the Canadian Olympic Hall Of Fame in 2001. Payne-Wiggins is the mother of the National Basketball Association’s 2015 Rookie Of The Year Andrew Wiggin.
Former Pic-O-De-Crop Monarch and soca artist Adrian AC Clarke, will be performing at this year’s gala, backed by Susan G and Neu Jenarashun from Toronto.
Since its inception in 2003, the BBCA, through the Barbados Ball, has been raising funds to support the Barbadian community in Canada and in Barbados, primarily in education and health care.
To date, the BBCA has contributed two dialysis machines valued at CAN$50,000 to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, as well as chairs for the renal unit. The organization has also granted over CAN$120,000 in scholarships to students of Barbadian heritage who are pursuing post-secondary education in Canada.
Another donation of CAN$50,000 was made to the SickKids-Caribbean Initiative. Launched in February, 2013, by the SickKids Foundation in Toronto, this project is aimed at improving diagnoses and outcomes for children in the Caribbean affected by paediatric cancers and serious blood disorders.
The initiative will help build health care capacity in Barbados, Jamaica, St Lucia, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago and The Bahamas, by training health professionals, providing consultation and diagnostic expertise, and developing and expanding access to treatment and supportive care.
President of the organization, Steve Kirton, said he felt proud of what had been accomplished over the years. Kirton, who has been a member of the organization from the beginning, said: “Our long-term goal is to stage an event that would raise sufficient funds to benefit Barbados and Barbadians; and over the 12 years we have been able to make significant contributions, thanks to our sponsors and supporters.”
The BBCA was recognized for its contributions at the 2012 Diaspora Conference in Barbados where it received the Minister’s Award for leadership and achievement from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.