Student fighting illness gets help to study medicine
Danae Pryce was all smiles last Friday as she collected a cheque for $335,000 from Tank-Weld Metals towards her college education.
Her grin got wider as it became more apparent that her goal of becoming a gastroenterologist was now within touching distance. The 21-year-old, who was diagnosed with Crohn's Disease in 2017, could hardly contain her emotions as the steel company's managing director, Bruce Bicknell, greeted her in his office along Seaward Drive in St Andrew.
"Take a picture of me with this please!" shouted an ecstatic Pryce, before sharing a warm embrace with Bicknell. Looking on were Pryce's Merl Grove High School peers Aaliyah Woodhi, Deandrea Clarke and Takara Levy, and acting principal Lorretta Ricketts. Their jubilation was pure, after all, Pryce, who resides in Denham Town, Kingston, has endured a bumpy ride fighting Crohn's, a chronic illness that attacks one's intestines.
"Mr Bicknell, Sir I really cannot put into words what this means to me. I am truly grateful for this gesture from yourself and the company," said a teary-eyed Pryce. In a January 20 article in this newspaper, Pryce shared that her debilitating health motivated her as she pushed to be enrolled into the University of Havana in Cuba to study for a bachelor's degree in medicine.
She applied last November and got accepted a month later, but Pryce needed to find a processing fee of $635,000 before a February 6 deadline. Pryce had managed to raise a little more than $100,000 until her quest to get a major boost from corporate executives Bicknell and Dwight Moore. She is now set to leave the island later this month.
Bicknell told THE STAR that he felt compelled to help out after he was moved by Pryce's "remarkable story".
"In not so much the same words, Bob Marley once said 'My life is not important if I can't help people'. So when I read Danae's story and saw how determined she was to fight her way through her illness, I was more than moved and felt that I had to find a way to help her," he said smiling.
Bicknell made an initial personal donation of $150,000 the day after the article was published, before his company stepped in a week later to donate the balance.
Moore, the chairman of charity organisation Dads of Distinction, also donated $50,000 to Pryce's cause.
"She has struck me with the right chord hence the quick response. This is what I promote everywhere, within my family, within my business. It is what we grow up on and is part of our national contribution to nation building. In addition, my friends and family are into serious philanthropy and personal development of Jamaicans, especially those whom are under-financed. Danae is a bright young girl with a promising future," he said.
Despite her struggles, Pryce scored seven passing grades in the Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate examinations. She was also successful in the Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Examination after gaining passing grades in two of the three subjects she attempted. Ricketts said that she was happy that Pryce has now been given the opportunity to realise her dream.
"She is a very courageous young woman. Always an obedient and helpful daughter of Merl Grove, she is always a standout and I am very happy that both Mr Bicknell and Mr Moore felt it in their hearts to assist her as she moves towards a better life. I have no doubt that she will excel because she is an exceptional student to have," Ricketts said.