By Christopher Tobutt
It was the second year of the Queen Elizabeth II Botanic Park 5k Walk/Run and more than a 100 participants lined up outside the entrance early on Sunday morning. Their route would take them along the Park’s driveway, to Frank Sound Road and then down to the turn-around at Clifton Hunter High School before coming back to the finish line. They each paid 25 KYD to participate, raising more than 2500 dollars to help finish the Children’s Garden that the park is building. The run was originally set to coincide with the Queen’s birthday, but was put off by a month because of weather.
“We are trying to raise funds for the children’s garden which is a fantastic project that is taking place here at the park and we are about 65 to 70 percent complete, “ said Tourism Attractions Board Director, Patrick Thompson. “We are trying to seek sponsorship from private sector partners, government partners, anyone at all, even someone who is not in business but could be a generous sponsor or donor to the project. Right now we need about 750,000 KYD. Lots of kids have even asked for funds instead of gifts for their birthdays, and they have donated the funds to the Botanic park to ensure that the children’s garden gets completed…that’s how much they value it,”
If you haven’t visited the Children’s Garden, maybe you should. As soon as you walk in, there are things for kids of all ages to do and explore, beginning right next to the entrance with three giant-sized birds nests built by Cayman artist Tansy. Then there are two big observation towers, a fun Splash Pad, a beautiful pond with lilies and fish, a giant-sized orchid built by artist joseph Betty.
“Recently we have got a new climbing structure from Germany and the kids who have come out here they are loving it,” Mr. Thompson said, “We have lots of private sector partners on this project and we are so grateful we are so delighted that the fundraising continues. We have random prizes to give away and everyone who participates receives a ticket.”
First man and first woman over the line were a husband-and-wife duo, Ruak and Marike Van der Merwe, “it is my first two weeks on the island. I am used to being a runner so, how do you meet new people? You come on a run,” he said. Marike said “I’m glad that I came. It was my first time doing this run,”.
Another husband and wife ‘team,’ CUC’s CEO and President Richard Hew and his wife, Sandy, had come to support the run. “We both love the botanic park but we don’t get up here often enough so we saw this in the newspaper and we thought well get some exercise. When the race was over, both of them went to the top of the observation tower, which CUC had built as a voluntary project, donating electricity poles for its framework. “I haven’t seen it in its completed form so I am here to see that today,” Mr Hew said.