Fundraiser to aid Vincy athletes at Penn Relays

James Cordice (2nd from left) with Vincy student athletes, from left, Kailon Kirby, Rogike Thorpe and Zenron Chance.
Photo by Nelson A. King

Without flinching, four Brooklyn-based, Vincentian-born sisters again collaborated with James Cordice, the architect of St. Vincent and the Grenadines’ participation in the illustrious Penn Relays in Philadelphia, and the umbrella Vincentian group in the United States in hosting another very successful fundraising Prayer Breakfast in aid of Vincentian athletes competing in the annual relays carnival.

For the past six years the Deshong sisters – Yvette, Evelyn and Rosita – have not hesitated in supporting the worthy cause. Another sister, Sonia, joined the initiative this year for the first time.

The Deshong’s compatriot and fellow Brooklyn resident Claudette Thomas-Butler had assisted in previous years.

“The Prayer Breakfast was well received,” said Yvette Deshong, who played the leading role in the event. “It was well-organized and wellattended.

“I believe that everyone who attended had a good time,” she added in a Caribbean Life interview. “The food and entertainment were on point.”

Cordice, who trekked from Philadelphia to assist in the fundraiser, said it was “another successful year fundraising for the SVG (St. Vincent and the Grenadines) track teams that will attend to the 125th running of the Penn Relays.

“This Vincy-style Prayer Breakfast has grown into a gathering of God-loving, food-loving and sports-loving persons – the smell, the taste, the beautiful people,” he told Caribbean Life.

Laverne McDowald-Thompson, president of the Council of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, U.S.A., Inc. (COSAGO), the umbrella group, said the Deshong sisters “must be highly commended for doing this prayer breakfast each year to raise funds to help offset expenses for team SVG Penn Relay athletes.

“We do our part to help make it a success,” she said. “This is the kind of togetherness we look forward to in the community.”

McDowald-Thompson said the attendance was “good, the atmosphere was right, and it was really nice to have three athletes who are attending college here in New York and have benefited from these efforts in our midst,” she said.

“And they help served the guests,” she added. “My sincere gratitude to all those who came out to support.”

Those three Vincentian athletes – Kailon Kirby, Rogike Thorpe and Zenron Chance – participated in previous Penn Relays, and are currently students at Kingsborough Community College in Brooklyn.

They were among students of the Thomas Saunders Secondary School (TSSS), the pioneering Vincentian high school, which still participates in the Penn Relays Carnival.

“Seeing former TSSS athletes – Kirby, Thorpe and Chance – simply filled my heart with joy,” Cordice said. “Special Thanks to everyone who contributed in any form. Your input allowed for a productive event.”

The event featured, among others, gospel renditions by Bros. Shammah and Bardo Hills, and Sis. La Fleur Durant, Jacintha Lowe and Judith “Baffie” Cuffy-Murray.

Wayne Commissiong also performed on pan.

New York Consul General Howie Prince, McDowald-Thompson and Cordice addressed patrons.

In bringing the message, Dr. Roxie Irish, a Youth Minister at Miracle Temple Ministries in the Brownsville section of Brooklyn, urged patrons to “Do it,” based on the story of David and Goliath in the Bible.

Dr. Irish, who is also founder and president of the Brooklyn-based United Vincie Cultural Group of Brooklyn, said while David was not man’s choice, he was chosen by God.

“His family didn’t think much of him; David was obedient to God,” she preached, with 1 Samuel 17 as her text. “He did it.”

Irish, a former national netball star in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, said that, when King Saul and the trained soldiers were running away in fear, “David faced the challenge and trusted God.”

She said that, before Nike used the slogan, “Just Do It,” God had used those words.

“In (the book of) Genesis, God told Noah to build an ark – just do it,” Irish said. “God told Abraham to leave his homeland for an unknown destination. God said, ‘just do it.’”

Dr. Irish said there was no reason for excuses, stating that there are “blessings in being obedient to God.

“So, are we willing to be obedient to God?” she asked. “Are you going to do what God has purposed for you?

“It is very clear from the Bible that God expects us to be doers,” she added. “Everyone wins when God’s people do what he says. Allow God to do the thinking, and let’s get to doing. Do it!”

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