St. George’s University members of the American Medical Student Association (AMSA), along with the help of Prickly Bay Marina, presented a donation of EC$31,000, the highest single donation to date, to the Grenada Heart Foundation (GHF) on Thursday April 16, 2015.
Funds were raised at this year’s Valentine’s Day Date Auction, the most successful fundraiser the group has held to date. When asked how they did it, Nitasha Sharma, President of AMSA and fifth term medical student said, “It was a lot of hard work, on-the-ground work, and support from the Grenadian community. Donations from local businesses drive our fundraising which we then auction off as someone’s date.” Some of the auction items this year included a catamaran cruise for 6 students, ‘Party-Donut’ boat rides or a 2 night hotel stay at Kalinago Beach Resort.
Dr. Kesava Mandalaneni, who sits on the board of the Grenada Heart Foundation said, “we’ve been partnering with AMSA for a very long time. They’ve been our biggest supporter; they raise a lot of money for us which goes toward helping achieve our mission, which is to provide cardiac care to those in need, especially children.”
According to Jennifer Solomon, Coordinator at GHF since 2000, “Students understand our charity, they understand our needs – and they understand giving. A lot of the dates that are auctioned go for four, five or even 10 times what they’re actually worth because they know the organizations we are supporting.” She believes that with the community coming together and businesses supporting the charity, they’re able to provide great prizes to be enjoyed on these dates. Previously, this event was held on SGU’s True Blue campus, but they eventually outgrew that space and “Prickly Bay very generously gave the new venue, serving staff, PA system and all those logistics that create a really good event,” she said.
For over two decades, the Grenada Heart Foundation has aided in 213 children being able to receive crucial cardiovascular care through partnerships abroad. The foundation works with the Ministry of Health to provide free health care services to children who suffer with congenital or acquired heart disease. Last year, thanks to AMSA’s donation, the GHF was able to send one child to the US to receive much needed heart surgery. However, with this year’s EC$31,000 donation, the GHF will be sending two children to receive life-saving heart surgeries at no cost to them.
“The number one goal for us as a chapter of a US national organization is to give back to the community,” said Ms. Sharma. “This nation has given us our dream. They have allowed us to pursue our goals of being physicians, veterinarians, or anything we choose to be. AMSA’s Valentine’s Day Date Auction is an opportunity for us to give back in a very meaningful way. We are able to positively impact the lives of these young people of Grenada by, in turn, giving them a chance to pursue their goals and dreams as they grow older and overcome these heart defects that they may not otherwise be able to overcome.”
AMSA is a student-governed, US organization, committed to improving the lives of medical students for 60 years. It is the oldest and largest independent association in the US, of physicians-in-training, with over 62,000 national and international members.
by Ray-Donna Peters