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Giving back to Bermuda — the island that made his dream a reality

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Most people are aware of the American Dream, but have you heard of the Bermudian Dream?

Well-known Island road runner Sylvester Jean-Pierre has, because he has lived it.

Now he has created a limited edition sterling silver pendant to embody the gratitude he has for Bermuda and her people. His desire is for the pendant and its message to inspire others.

“I felt that I had to give something back,” he said. He came to Bermuda 29 years ago with a simple dream of earning a wage that would allow him to secure private healthcare for his pregnant girlfriend Cyrelene, who is now his wife, back in Barbados.

“It was a modest dream to provide healthcare for her.”

His dream became a reality. While still in Barbados he was offered a job in Bermuda, at the former Sonesta hotel, he took it and was able to provide the financial support for his girlfriend. But the story didn't end there, because he was struck by the hospitality and friendliness of the people of Bermuda.

“The product of Bermuda is the Bermudians and they embrace you,” he said. “They showed such hospitality towards me, and there was no class distinction — and that means so much for a person who comes from another land.”

He has lived on the Island ever since, working in the hospitality sector including Elbow Beach and Fairmont Southampton resorts. For a few months each year he returns to Barbados to be with his family, and arrangement he likens to that of a servicemen in the military living abroad.

When he came to Bermuda Mr Jean-Pierre wasn't a sportsman, but at the age of 34 he was encouraged by Monica Massey, at Elbow Beach, to be part of a running team in a corporate challenge race. The rest is history.

Despite being a latecomer to the sport he quickly established himself as one of the Island's fastest and most recognised athletes, securing a top three finish in the May 24 Derby in 2003 when he was in his early 40s. He has run the Island's most famous race every year for 20 years, only missing this year's through illness.

Many spectators look out for him each year. He wears a distinctive bandanna — which reminds him of his mother who died in 2001.

Explaining his philosophy, he said when you go to another country you need to obey its laws and respect its people. “So from 1985 until now I have never been ungrateful. There are people who have never had the opportunity that I have been given.”

Mr Jean-Pierre, from Carrington Village, St Michael, Barbados, says his motto is: 'Those who receive also learn to give.”

That is the message he wishes to convey through his pendant and a small poem that will accompany it. It reflects the journey he undertook with a simple dream he brought to Bermuda that became a reality.

“I was embraced by Bermudians who opened their arms, whether it was work-related or through my athletic abilities. By being given that opportunity it has allowed me to surpass my dream and I am humbled by that every day,” he said.

Many Islanders have opened doors for him and enriched his life in Bermuda, including the late Royal Gazette photographer Tamell Simons, a colleague at the Sonesta in the mid-1980s and after whom he named his own son Tamal, others he mentions include Perry Robinson, Lee Richard at the Fairmont Southampton, the Swan's Running Club, coach Steve Burgess, Mike Watson, the Bermuda Track and Field Association (now the BNAA) and employers and colleagues past and present. He also especially thanked Keith Adams and Richard Quinn who worked at the Sonesta.

Using an analogy, he said Bermuda was today like a mother facing economic challenges and it was time for her children, and her adopted children, to help.

Embracing and helping others is one way of doing that. “I'm saying reach out and give someone a chance so that they can hold the key of hope to make their dream a reality.”

His pendant will be a limited edition, just 47. That number reflects the 47th independence anniversary of his homeland Barbados this Saturday.

Proceeds will go to the Island's Barbados Association, a charitable organisation, and he would like to help other charities.

Anyone interested in the pendants can contact Mr Jean-Pierre on e-mail at: sillisly@hotmail.com or by phone at 336 7691.

Dream, hope and reality: Well-known runner Sylvester Jean-Pierre has created a necklace pendant inspired by all that Bermuda has given him since he moved here, and reflecting his gratitude. He hopes to sell the limited edition item to inspire others and give proceeds to charity.
Dream, hope and reality: Well-known runner Sylvester Jean-Pierre has created a necklace pendant inspired by all that Bermuda has given him since he moved here, and reflecting his gratitude. He hopes to sell the limited edition item to inspire others and give proceeds to charity.
<p>The place where dreams come true</p>

Sylvester Jean-Pierre has written a short poem about dreams becoming reality to accompany with his pendant, which will be included in the presentation box.

Separately, he has also composed the following poem to reflect his thoughts for Bermuda:

From the land of the golden, yellow sand,

Barbados,

Wow, to the shore where the sand is pink,

Bermuda, Bermuda, Bermuda,

With a dream burning with desire,

Locked within your heart,

Your mind, your soul, it will consume,

Until you release it from the dark.

So use this key to unlock what your heart can see,

The hope, the dream, the goals you have can become reality.

Copyright: Sylvester Jean-Pierre, together with 'de Bajans'.

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Published November 29, 2013 at 8:00 am (Updated November 28, 2013 at 10:45 pm)

Giving back to Bermuda — the island that made his dream a reality

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