Dilmah's quest to enable the differently-abled through AIDEX continues
The Merrill J. Fernando Charitable Foundation (MJFCF) has always worked towards uplifting the conditions of the differently-abled and countering the discrimination faced by such individuals, through the implementation of wide-ranging programmes; and supporting the annual AIDEX sports fiesta has been a commitment made since 2003 as this sports day is designed to reward and recognise the talents of the differently-abled community in Sri Lanka. Continuing this tradition, MJFCF partnered with the event organisers - Colombo Friend-In-Need Society to present this year's edition of AIDEX Sports Festival, which was concluded on October 9 at the Prison's Ground, Welikada Borella. An event that is gathering momentum every year, this year's AIDEX sports festival brought together around 400 differently-abled individuals from various age groups; children as young as 10 years and elderly over 50 years, from different parts of Sri Lanka who gathered at the venue to showcase their abilities through track and field events including cycling and archery- latter being a popular sport among the participants of AIDEX with this year having a total of 140 individuals competing under this category. That this sports day is much looked forward to by the differently-abled participants- members of the armed forces, civilians, the victims of accidents and those who were born disabled who are now Jaipur limb users was evident in the vigor and enthusiasm with which they participated in the 57 track and field events. For them, AIDEX 2016 served as a platform to display their strengths and determination to those present at the event- around 1200 guests - and this showcase of their efforts encourages them in believing that they can be integral and productive in their communities. Over the years, AIDEX has produced athletes who have gone on to shine at International Para events. This year's sports festival also saw few special awards, sponsored by Dilmah for the Best Athlete in the junior and senior category being given away while the stalls of some of the Small Entrepreneur Programme (SEP) grant recipients who have developed their talents through MJFCF support to lead independent and productive lives were also featured at the event. The Merrill J Fernando Charitable Foundation implements over 100 different projects each year for the benefit of marginalised social groups including the differently abled, has been supporting this annual event since its inception in keeping with Dilmah Founder Merrill J. Fernando's philosophy of making business a matter of human service.