The British Virgin Islands Rugby Football Union (RFU) has collaborated with Castaway CrossFit to host a fundraiser event aimed at raising $15,000 for a local national rugby player who is in urgent need of heart surgery.
Kenrick ‘Jimmy’ Thomas who is a former student of the Elmore Stoutt High School recently received a medical diagnosis that he has a hole in the septum between his heart’s lower or upper chambers. This is called a Ventricular or Atrial Septal Defect.
Speaking to BVI News in a recent interview, Head Coach of the Rugby Football Union James Vaughan Turner said approximately $10,000 has already been raised, but he is calling on residents to continue supporting the cause to ensure Thomas receives his surgery which must be conducted off-island.
“Jimmy has a great number of friends and we are all trying our best to assist him. The BVI’s NHI will cover part of his medical costs but not all. He needs to raise between $15,000 to $20,000 in order to cover the costs of the operation. He is planning on having the operation in Puerto Rico,” Coach Turner said.
He added: “Jimmy is in good spirits, he has been raising money for his operation. Being unable to continue any training or sport has had a doubly negative impact for Jimmy. Coupled with having to learn of, and deal with his condition during the COVID-19 pandemic, it has been very difficult for him but his motivation to succeed has helped him to push forward and strive forward.”
Teammates remain positive
Coach Turner said the news of Thomas’ diagnosis had his teammates initially concerned, but said their brotherhood mentality has helped to keep the entire team positive during this period.
“Jimmy is an important member of the team and when his team mates heard the news of his condition, they were shocked and concerned for his health. In rugby we have values and a culture and when one of our players is in need, we all come together to help each other out. Rugby is very special, it brings people together from all different cultures and backgrounds as one big family,” he explained.
Thomas is a gifted talent
The head coach further pointed to the many achievements of the 23-year-old Thomas, who has been successful during his tenure representing the national team.
“He has represented the BVI national rugby teams on numerous occasions in 7s and 15s rugby and has literally bled for the BVI in certain games, including losing a piece of his ear whilst playing for the BVI National Men’s 15’s rugby team against Barbados,” the coach stated.
“He has won several awards in rugby, such as the most valuable player for the under 19 tournaments in 2014 in Trinidad and the most improved player twice in 2017 and 2019. He captained his secondary school in a two-year undefeated streak. Jimmy has also been a very keen practitioner of Castaway CrossFit in the BVI,” he added.
Beach Rugby Fundraiser event
The fundraiser which is slated for the Brandywine Bay beach will consist of three categories of events of beach rugby which will all have teams of six players each.
These will include Senior Men’s Tackle with an entry fee of $200 per squad, Under-18 Men’s Tackle with an entry fee of $100, and Mixed Touch Rugby with an entry fee of $200.
The event will run from 9 am to 5 pm on Sunday November 22.
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