Appeal to aid ailing former SVG soccer star

Several St. Vincent and the Grenadines’ national sports stars, sporting organizations, friends and supporters in New York are appealing for financial support for ailing former national football (soccer) star Keith “Slick” Clark.

Clark, who carried Bonadie as his last name during most of his football career at home, is hospitalized at Kingsbrook Jewish Medical Center in Brooklyn.

Patrons at a cultural show — on Sept. 6, 2014, at Meyer Levin Intermediate School in Brooklyn, organized by the United Vincie Cultural Group of Brooklyn (UVCGB) — were informed that Clark had suffered a stroke.

Reports currently indicate that he has since sustained a series of medical complications.

Thus, the executive body of the newly-formed, Brooklyn-based St. Vincent & the Grenadines United States of America Sports Association (SVG-USASA), along with former national sports stars, friends and supporters, on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, Jan. 18, visited Clark at this bedside.

Clark is renowned as a talented mid-fielder, who thrilled soccer-loving fans, at home and in New York, for three decades, from the 1970s through the ‘90s.

SVG-USASA, through its Sports Legends and Legacy Fund, and with the contributions of all visitors, donated US$500 to the Clark family during their two-hour-long visit.

The group also shared stories and wished Clarke a speedy recovery, SVG-USASA told Caribbean Life.

SVG-USASA chairman Peter “Poski” Burke and deputy chair and newly-minted Sports Ambassador Stella Boyea-Ashby, a former national netball captain, were among well-wishers at the handing-over event.

Burke said SVG-USASA’s Legends and Legacy Fund is aimed at “demonstrating to our sports heroes that they have not been forgotten.”

“Brother and sister are words that we love to use very much. Thanks to our culture, they signify a bond that has a special place that goes well beyond the ties of family,” Burke said. “Today, it is necessary to bring brotherhood back to the heart of our sporting fraternity, and demonstrate that we are, indeed, our brother’s keepers.”

In echoing Burke’s sentiments, Boyea-Asby said: “This is beautiful. Yes, they are our brothers and sisters, and we love them and treat them as such.

“They will know they are not alone in their time of need,” said Boyea-Asby, who ruled the netball court for over two decades, when she represented the nation from the 1970s through the ‘80s, and played for Hairoun Sports Club afterwards in Brooklyn.

“Our group was super happy that we spent this day visiting ‘Slick,’ knowing what MLK (the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.) stood for,” she added.

Another Sports Ambassador, erstwhile national netball star, who played under Boyea-Ashby’s captaincy, and netball administrator in Brooklyn, Gailene Windsor, said: “Our fervent prayer is for a speedy recovery and for the continued well-being of his mom Claire, aka Cynthia, his brother Bertie and sister Debbie Hadaway, who are constantly at his side.”

Windsor and Boyea-Ashby were named Sports Ambassadors by Prime Minister Dr. Ralph E. Gonsalves during his Independence Message last October at Victoria Park in Kingstown, the Vincentian capital. Windsor also serves as SVG-USASA’s treasurer.

Bertie “Snails” Hadaway said he was very touched by the gesture, expressing gratitude that members of the sporting fraternity in New York were still thinking about his ailing brother and that the entire SVG-USASA executive took the extraordinary step in visiting him at his bedside.

SVG-USASA members said they plan to constantly visit Clark, asking the public for prayers for him and his family “as he goes through this healing process.”

During the September 2014 cultural show, UVCGB successfully appealed to the audience to “dig deep into your pockets, pocket books and wallets” in supporting Clark.

The audience responded generously, and UVCGB presented US$1,300.00 to Clark, who had earlier addressed the audience.

“When I heard of the plight of our brother, Keith ‘Slick’ (Clark) Bonadie, I knew that we had to help him,” said UVCGB president and former national netball star Dr. Roxie Irish then. “It is the way we live.

“I firmly believe that ministry is about people; and, since the UVCGB is not just a group but a ministry, we will always lend a helping hand to those in need,” she added.

On Monday, Dr. Irish, a Born-Again Christian, told Caribbean Life that she has been visiting Clark at the hospital, adding: “We’re doing what we’re supposed to do.

“If my brother is in trouble, we’re supposed to help him,” she said. “Love is something that’s demonstrated — you’re not just talking. We’re just trying to exemplify what Jesus did when he worked on this earth. It’s a mandate that we should love each other.”

Stanley “Luxie” Morris — under whose captaincy Clark played at home in the 1970s and 80s, and in New York, for Hairoun Sports Club, in the 1990s – told Caribbean Life, in September 2014, that he was gratified by the outpouring of support for his “fallen brother.”

“He’ll not be alone at this time when he needs love, encouragement, prayers and other assistance,” said Morris, adding that he and Clark “go way back — from Hospital Road to Shingle City to Old Montrose to Edinboro (in St. Vincent and the Grenadines) to Prospect Place, Brooklyn.”

SVG-USASA is asking the public to visit Clark in Room 328 at Kingsbrook Jewish Medical Center.

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