Mon | Mar 18, 2019

Patria-Kaye Aarons | Sigma does so much more

Published:Tuesday | February 19, 2019 | 12:21 AM
Cheerleaders putting on a show at the 21st staging of the Sagicor Sigma Corporate Fun Run/Walk on Sunday.

Fifty-three million dollars worth of people rolled out on Sunday to participate in this year’s staging of the Sigma road race. I find it more impactful referring to the donation figure as opposed to the headcount, because it brings into focus the power of what we can accomplish when together we attack the same problem. Corporate Jamaica and giving individuals raised that!

The attendance numbers were impressive nevertheless. Almost 30,000 strong. I quickly combed through my social media feed that afternoon and it was flooded with pictures of teams, people sharing their race times and hearty congratulations to the organisers for an incident-free event.

One post that did stand out amid the Sigma praise was one from a non-participant complaining about being inconvenienced by the resultant city detours.

There are several roads that are inaccessible to vehicular traffic for four or five hours annually because of the race.

Alysia Moulton White, assistant vice-president of marketing at Sagicor, posted on Twitter on Saturday, “Many will be inconvenienced on Sunday. I know, I get the calls … and believe me, we’re truly sorry. The Sigma Run 2019 will bless many and raise PLENTY MONEY and so I thank you for your sacrifice”. She followed that up with a newspaper article detailing the traffic changes to be expected.

Even in the very few years I haven’t participated, I’ve never thought of complaining about the ‘inconvenience’ … because there’s a much bigger picture.

This year’s beneficiaries – the Lupus Foundation of Jamaica, the May Pen Hospital Neonatal Unit and the Diabetes Association of Jamaica – or any of the recipients over the last 20 years, as well as the millions they serve, I’m sure would join the call in thanking folks for putting up with the inconvenience.

MASSIVE INCOME GENERATOR

Beyond the millions donated to charity, Sigma does so much more.

It’s a massive income generator for local promotional items providers. Every year their services are utilised to print new shirts and caps for the various teams. For many, outside of Christmas, Sigma represents their single largest selling opportunity.

At the end of the morning, near nobody cooks breakfast because you’re just too tired. Whether it’s the caterers who supply meals to the hundreds of teams, or the various restaurants that receive the uncustomary sweaty Sunday morning walk-ins, they don’t see Sigma as an inconvenience at all. Banana, orange and watermelon farmers and vendors smile because they’re guaranteed a good sale that weekend to satisfy the fruit needs of race participants.

And the marketer in me doesn’t miss the captive audience Sigma provides.

Bert’s Auto Parts had a champion in the crowd this year who was shouting out all the services they offer and parts they carry as he jogged down the road. It was a welcome injection of humour, but a stroke of advertising genius. Now I know where to check first for a control arm for my car.

Catherine’s Peak used the finish line to remind everyone about their ‘pickney’-sized bottle of water, and the trend of branding shirts both in the front and back turned every participant into both a walking billboard and potential customer.

For those who continue to complain about closed roads and inconveniences, lawks man, I urge you to see the bigger picture. Next year, come join the race, the comrade and the fun, the exercise, the economic ecosystem and most importantly, the giving. And even if you choose not to, recognise the world of good Sigma sparks and, like Elva would advise...RELAX!!!!!!

Patria-Kaye Aarons is a confectioner and broadcaster. Email feedback to columns@gleanerjm.com and findpatria@gmail.com.