Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce celebrates 10 years of impact with the Pocket Rocket Foundation

By November 05, 2023

Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce stood at the podium, her radiant smile reflecting the immense pride she felt for the Pocket Rocket Foundation on its 10th anniversary. The celebration and fundraiser were taking place at the elegant AC Hotel in Kingston, and it was a night of reflection, gratitude, and renewed commitment to the under-served Waterhouse community and student athletes who had benefitted from the foundation's scholarships.

She began by expressing her deep gratitude to the sponsors, partners, and friends who had supported the foundation over the past decade. "It's because of your generosity why we're here this evening that we're able to celebrate 10 years of the Pocket Rocket Foundation. The impact and the legacy that we have had throughout the 10 years is all because of you," she emphasized.

Turning her attention to the foundation's origin, Fraser-Pryce shared the motivation behind its creation. "Now, the reason I have the Pocket Rocket Foundation is because for all of my life, there are so many persons that poured into who I was and who I was going to become. They saw vision, they saw hope, they saw so much more, and it's because of that why we have the Pocket Rocket Foundation."

The five-time World 100m champion recognized the importance of balancing education and sports to transform lives, a lesson she learned early in her life. "When I was in Waterhouse, I always knew; like my mom would say to me that sports was going to be my way out. We have to learn to strike the balance between education and sport to transform your life, and I learned that early that that was going to be the case."

She stressed the significance of service, explaining, "Service is our greatest strength. I've always believed that. For those who serve, you are powerful. It's your strength that's where you lead from. I crossed the line and I wanted to give back."

The three-time Olympic gold medalist praised her then manager, Bruce James, who helped her set up the foundation. "I said to Mr. (Bruce) James I needed to start my foundation, and I wanted to have impact. I don't want to start a foundation because it looks good on paper or it sounds good. I want to start a foundation because I want to have impact. I want to give student athletes the same privilege, the same chance to dream, to plant a seed, to have hope."

She thanked the foundation's initial supporters, including GraceKennedy, Digicel, and Nike, for providing the initial funding. Sagicor's contribution, providing a rent-free home for the foundation for almost two years, was especially noteworthy. Shelly-Ann recognized the importance of transparency and integrity in her foundation's operations.

Throughout her speech, Shelly-Ann expressed her gratitude to her sponsors for their unwavering support. "There's never a time that I've called on any of my sponsors to say, I need your support, I need to donate food, I need toys for the kids, I need bags, and they're always there. I've never heard I can't. It's always yes."

Shelly-Ann then highlighted the impact the Pocket Rocket Foundation had on student athletes. "73 student athletes over the 10 years. It's just remarkable for me to have seen a lot of you transcend so many different things."

She mentioned examples like Tahj Lumley, one of the foundation's first recipients, who became the national squash coach, and Jovaine (Atkinson), who became a pilot. "When you talk about them, it is hope and that is the seed that we have planted in their lives because of you. I want to be able to fuel those dreams and help them surpass their own expectations."

The foundation's initiatives, including the breakfast program with GraceKennedy, aimed to make a difference in the Waterhouse community. Shelly-Ann emphasized the importance of providing every child with access to nutritious meals, regardless of their family's circumstances.

Discussing the foundation's football program, she said, "When you talk about peace through sports, that's what our football program does. It's bringing young men from different communities who are otherwise pre-occupied or not speaking. We're able to bridge that gap because of that football competition."

Shelly-Ann hoped for a better, more united Waterhouse through her foundation's efforts. "That's the Waterhouse that I want. That's the Waterhouse that I'm dreaming of. We want to have impact, we want to have legacy."

In closing, Shelly-Ann emphasized that her own journey was a blueprint for the student athletes. "You can have balance. Having that balance and striking that balance is difficult, but it's possible. I did it. I am the blueprint. I am showing them the way.”

Several sponsors received awards on the night for their contributions to the Pocket Rocket Foundation (PRF) over the past decade.  GraceKennedy Ltd received the Pocket Rocket Foundation Pinnacle Award, Nike received the PRF Trailblazer Award, the PRF Standout Performer went to Wisynco, the PRF Start Award went to Sagicor, the PRF Change Award went to Digicel and the PRF Trendsetter Award was received by American Friends of Jamaica.

 

Leighton Levy

Leighton Levy is a journalist with 28 years’ experience covering crime, entertainment, and sports. He joined the staff at SportsMax.TV as a content editor two years ago and is enjoying the experience of developing sports content and new ideas. At SportsMax.tv he is pursuing his true passion - sports.

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