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Sloop charity raises $125,000 for

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The Bermuda Sloop Foundation took a big step back in time to the days of pirates and privateers who walked the plank yesterday to raise more than $125,000.

And ten percent of the funds raised will go to 16-year-old Nahge O’Brien, a student crew member who is battling cancer.

More than a hundred spectators turned out at Albouy’s Point at noon to watch 32 hostages on board the

Spirit of Bermuda wrestle over their fate.

Only those who had raised more than $2,500 were given the option of walking the plank to take the plunge into Hamilton Harbour.

But the Governor, Sir Richard Gozney gave onlookers the option of donating more money to force the naysayers overboard. That turned out to be the case for One Bermuda Alliance Senator Michael Dunkley.

In a matter of minutes some $251 was put up for him to take the plunge, which he then matched and then jumped.

One of the first to jump was Bill Zuill the editor of

The Royal Gazette. He donned a big pirate hat with long curly locks attached, before jumping in head first.

Needless to say the hat came out of the water in his hand not on his head. He was joined by sports reporter Colin Thompson who jumped in with former professional footballer Kyle Lightbourne.

After the big splash Mr Zuill said: “It was a great honour for Colin Thompson and me to be asked to take part in this innovative event to help raise funds and awareness of the

Spirit of Bermuda and the great work it does with Bermuda’s young people.

“While the Sloop Foundation may not be able to reach every young Bermudian, the educational and character lessons they teach are invaluable and we are grateful to all the people who contributed so generously.

“And, of course, the slightly sadistic comments and emails I received from people who paid for me to walk the plank are indelibly marked in my memory.”

One of the hostages on board the sloop to escape the plunge was former Premier Sir John Swan.

The real estate mogul came ashore bragging: “You either pay up or wet up. I paid up because I had no intention of getting wet.”

His comments triggered a resounding round of applause by onlookers.

Other notable hostages included Giorgio Zanol of Lindo’s, former Anglican Bishop Ewen Ratteray, former banker Henry Smith, singer Heather Nova and Pamela Ferreira of the MarketPlace.

One of the few women in the line up was radio personality Patrina O’Connor, also known as Powergirl. She put up quite a bit of a struggle before two pirates weilding swords hurled her off the plank.

Once back on shore, she said the water was actually quite warm. She told

The Royal Gazette that it was worth it.

“I work for Big Brothers Big Sisters and I know non-profit organisations are really struggling financially right now. I think its important for us to support each other especially during the recession.”

Also on hand to witness the event was Nahge’s brother, Raemar, his grandmother Christine O’Brien and cousin Justin Matthie.

Mrs O’Brien, who took time off from her job at Aon Insurance Managers Bermuda to watch the spectacle said Nahge is preparing for a stem cell transplant at St Jude’s Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee.

Nahge took ill last summer and was diagnosed with leukemia. This is his second time in St Jude’s, he suffered a relapse last October and has been there ever since.

Mrs O’Brien told

The Royal Gazette both her son, Nahge’s father Morris and wife Margaret O’Brien are in Memphis with her grandson.

“He’s doing pretty good, they are getting him prepared for the stem cell transplant.

“They had to put if off for four days because Nahge developed inflamation of the liver.

He has to have a series of chemo and radiation treatements first, plus they have to destroy some of the bone marrow to make room for the new marrow to grow.

“Nahge has lost all of his hair but not his spirit. He doesn’t like the treatments but he is still upbeat about it all and he hasn’t lost his great sense of humour either.”

When asked how she felt about the foundation’s donation to defray medical costs, she said: “I am truly grateful, every little bit helps.

“St Jude is covering most of Nahge’s treatment, but both of his parents took leave from work to be with him and the costs are tremendous.

“We are just so grateful, every dollar helps and even just one dollar counts when you add it up.”

Nahge’s family will get $12,500 as a result of this fundraiser.

The young man is one of the student crew members and he has been on several local and overseas voyages. He also assisted with corporate and individual evening charters.

His brother Raemar said: “My brother is in good spirits even though he was disappointed the cancer came back again, after he was in remission.”

Nahge’s cousin Justin said he was hoping it was all over when Nahge came back from St Jude’s the first time. “I just can’t wait for it to be finally over,” said Justin.

Executive Director of the Bermuda Sloop Foundation, Denise Riviere said: “Today was absolutely awesome and a lot of fun!

“The current economy has encouraged us to be more creative in our fundraising efforts.

“With monthly expenses of about $150,00 per month, we have to think out of the box or we will suffer.

“The support we received from corporations and individual community members locally and overseas was overwhelming.

“Our youth development programmes touch several lives and by doing events like this, we will continue to achieve one of our goals which is to truly become Bermuda’s Tall Ship.”

Pirates of Bermuda: lawyer Jay Kempe take a plunge off the plank of the Spirit of Bermuda during the Bermuda Sloop Foundation?s Youth Program fund raiser in Hamilton Harbor Friday ( Photo by Glenn Tucker )
Pirates of Bermuda: Cindy Campbell hits the water after walking the the plank of the Spirit of Bermuda during the Bermuda Sloop Foundation's Youth Program fund raiser in Hamilton Harbor Friday ( Photo by Glenn Tucker )

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Published March 03, 2012 at 1:00 am (Updated March 03, 2012 at 6:16 am)

Sloop charity raises $125,000 for

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