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Apr 27, 2007

B.D.F runners hand over money to HIV families

Story PictureYou might have seen them on your travels … young members of the Belize Defence Force on a cross country journey on foot! But the investment of sweat, blood, and tears was not about personal accomplishments because as News Five’s Kendra Griffith reports, the soldiers are the latest to support the fight against HIV.

Kendra Griffith, Reporting
Between March twenty-sixth and April second, ten soldiers from the Belize Defence Force ran and walked three hundred and sixty-seven miles across the country. Their journey began in the village of Jalacte in the Toledo District and ended at the Santa Elena Border in Corozal.

Lt. Derrick Castillo, Organiser
“It actually took us ten hours from Punta Gorda to Independence, which was the most time we ever spent on the road, running.”

Officer Cadets Megan Aspinall and Kimberly Cain were two of five women on the trek.

Kendra Griffith
“Why did you decide to do it?”

Megan Aspinall, Office Cadet
“I think it was the challenge of saying you’re running from P.G. to Corozal and I wanted to say that I could accomplish something like that, running. So that was my reason for doing it.”

Kendra Griffith
“Did you prepare far in advance for this?”

Megan Aspinall
“No. I came to work and they asked me and it was like the Friday and by the Monday it started.”

Kendra Griffith
“What would you say was the toughest leg?”

Kimberly Cain, Officer Cadet
“The toughest leg, I would say was from Dangriga to Belmopan because of the hills. It was kinda strenuous for us going up the hills and going down, but it was okay.”

But bragging rights and physical prowess weren’t the only reasons why the soldiers ran … they also wanted to “Give Something Back.” Lt. Derrick Castillo was the man behind the mission.

Lt. Derrick Castillo
“I came up with this idea after watching a show or programme on either one of Channel Five or Seven with Miss Ana Silva from Cornerstone Foundation and a next lady from Corozal and they had this issue about children living or affected by HIV and AIDS and they were trying to get contribution from all non-government agencies and all business places, so I said we could come up with some idea as members of the Belize Defence Force to support such a situation and so we did.”

Today, the Force handed over the proceeds of the marathon–a cheque for six thousand, one hundred and twenty-five dollars–to the Cornerstone Foundation’s Caring for Children Belize. The organisation assists families affected by HIV.

Troy Banner, Bz. District Coordinator, Caring for Children Belize
“This project provides minor food items, toiletries, as well as assistance in schoolbooks, socks, clothes and stuff like that.”

Lt. Derrick Castillo
“The funds were raised by basically sending letters out to business places and then getting contributions along the route from the business places that we meet, we also meet people along the route that would give us money.”

Troy Banner
“A little bit goes a long way. If it was only five dollars they were giving, believe me, one family could get something out of that five dollars. So I must congratulate the B.D.F. for putting their outstanding effort to contribute to children infected and affected by HIV/AIDS because, as we all know, living with HIV is not an easy road to go and secondly, taking on that strain by yourself, you need help.”

Commander of the Belize Defence Force Brigadier General Lloyd Gillett commends the soldiers’ initiative.

Brig. Gen. Lloyd Gillett, Commander, B.D.F.
“I am proud that they were able to raise over six thousand dollars for an honourable cause. We need to take up the issue of children living with HIV/AIDS. The children are our future and we need to provide for them.”

And although the eight-day journey was gruelling, the soldiers say they stand ready to do it again.

Lt. Derrick Castillo
“Certainly ma’am, if God spares life we’ll be willing to do this again next year, same time.”

Kendra Griffith
“Would you do it again?

Kimberly Cain
“Of course, definitely.”

In addition to the cash, this morning the B.D.F. also donated exercise books, two coolers, and a flash drive to Caring for Children. Kendra Griffith reporting for News Five.

The Caring for Children Belize City office is located on third floor of the Commercial Centre. They are currently assisting twenty-five families. The soldiers would like to thank all their sponsors and supporters, especially Casey Broast, Print Belize, Brodies, and Bowen and Bowen.

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