ST. GEORGE’S, GRENADA – Canadian actor, Brandon Jay McLaren, who plays Dale Jakes in USA Network hit show ‘Graceland’, has thrown his full support behind a reachwithin.org crowdfunding campaign called A Run For Grenada which is raising funds to support children living in care homes across the island and is live at http://igg.me/at/ARunForGrenada
Brandon, whose father is from the Caribbean island of Grenada and mother is from Trinidad, was so enthused by the A Run For Grenada pre-campaign promotion he chose to do more than just donate. He is now a proud member of a team that will run over 20 miles, from the Islands capital St George’s to the town of Sauteurs, on Sunday, 1 November 2015.
“The older I get the more important Grenada is to me,” says Brandon. “My grandmother passed last year, and going back to Grenada for the service really had an impact. Knowing where you come from, history, lineage, tradition; these are all themes that have been central to the human experience for centuries and, for me, Grenada is at the center of those themes.”
“The campaign, A Run For Grenada, ticks three boxes for me,” continues Brandon. “I love to give back, I love to run and I love Grenada. I back this campaign because children are our future and they deserve the best start in life. At first I was going to just donate but then I decided to do a bit more. Before I knew it, and after a quick exchange with the campaign organisers, I had booked my flight to Grenada and now here I am training for a marathon run in the Caribbean. I will push my body over that finish line and when I do cross it, it will be a wonderful feeling.”
Dr. Karen Lawson, founder of reachwithin.org said, “I am thrilled and humbled that Brandon would take time out of his busy schedule to both support and take part in our campaign. Its great when Grenadians in the diaspora, and those with Grenadian roots, give back to the island although Brandon is doing so much more. Our dream is for A Run For Grenada to become an established, annual event and with Brandon’s support maybe it can happen.”
The run is in its first official year and will see Brandon, who was also in the movie, ‘She’s The Man’, running alongside ten local people including Grenadian, Dennis Mason, who was raised in residential care and initiated A Run For Grenada.
In 2014, a setback stopped Dennis from taking part in the TCS New York City Marathon. He worked off his disappointment by organising his own run in Grenada on the same day of the US race. Surprised and inspired by the positive public response Dennis, along with a few friends, decided to do it all again in 2015.
Raised in multiple care homes up to the age of eighteen, reachwithin programmes helped Dennis to make sense of his world and supported him as he transitioned out of the care system. Dennis says his greatest rock throughout has been reachwithin programme coordinator, Jerry Bascombe.
“When a few of us aged out of the home, Jerry went above and beyond his role to support us. He helped us to find a place to live, got us set up with job training opportunities and gave us fatherly advice when we needed it,” says Dennis. “With no parental guidance and little financial support from anywhere else, we relied heavily on the reachwithin family to help keep us on the right track.”
Dennis, who holds down a full-time position in a supermarket and is now a pat-time reachwithin mentor, is determined that programmes, which includes Art and Yoga workshops, Group Drumming, Life Skills Training and Caregiver Education, not only continue but expand to help young people that are transitioning out of care.
In the meantime, Dennis, Brandon and the rest of the team are in training for their run which will take them up steep hills and down deep valleys in the scorching sun and possible driving rain in just a few short weeks. Timely updates for #ArunForGrenada, can be found on the campaign page and social media.