Guardian Life 5K 2018 and 2019 wheelchair champion Andrew East was grinning from ear to ear last Tuesday when he received the gift of a brand new wheelchair through the efforts of Sandals Resort Montego Bay region and repeat guest John Bechthold from the United States. East received the wheelchair at a special handing-over ceremony at Sandals Royal Caribbean from the resort’s acting general manager, Dawn Smith, and the donor himself Bechthold.
“I am really elated and excited to receive this gift, as brand new wheelchairs like these are very hard to source in Jamaica,” East noted. “And especially this size. This will really help me a lot in getting around and taking part in my various physical activities.”
East, who hails from Cambridge District in the parish of St James, was the first-place winner in his age group in both the 2018 and 2019 editions of the Guardian Life 5K runs and is an avid sportsman who is looking forward to the day when normal road races will resume in the island post-COVID -19.
“I want to say thanks to Mr Bechthold and Sandals group for going out of their way to source and bring in this wheelchair for me. It’s an excellent gesture and I will put it to good use,” said East, who outlined that he was shot twenty years ago and unable to walk ever since.
In handing over the wheelchair, Bechthold noted that he had been in dialogue with Sandals regarding a donation of the wheelchair which had been purchased to fit East’s specification.
He said is looking forward to working with Sandals to assist more persons with disabilities who are in need of wheelchairs in the future.
Smith, meantime, thanked Bechthold for working with her resort in making the donation possible and said her company takes its role as good corporate citizens very seriously and looked forward to continuing assisting persons with disability in the surrounding communities.
East is now looking forward to receiving assistance in securing a racing wheelchair, and Sandals Regional Public Relations Manager Ian Spencer said he would be looking to see how the resort chain can further assist in that regard.
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