The Queens-based Team Jamaica Bickle (TJB), the organization that feeds and supports Jamaican and Caribbean athletes at the prestigious Penn Relays at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, on Jan. 8 launched its 25th anniversary at the Relays Carnival.
The ceremony took place at the Consulate General of Jamaica in midtown Manhattan.
In her welcoming remarks, Deputy Consul General, Lisa Bryan-Smart, heralded TJB as “a dynamic organization,” lauding the brand for contributing “so much” and for doing “a remarkable job” through the years.
Bryan-Smart said sports in Jamaica is “one of the country’s greatest assets, of great cultural value and (is) renowned worldwide.”
Speaking on behalf of chief executive officer of Caribbean Food Delights (CFD), Sabrina HoSang-Jordan and the HoSang Family, Howard Hylton said CFD and TJB “have built one of the strongest partnerships outside of Jamaica the over 25 years.” CFD donates meals for Caribbean athletes, over three days, during the last weekend in April.
Messages were also delivered by Lesleyanne Samuels, president of the Union of Jamaican Alumni Associations (UJAA); Michelle Tulloch-Neil of the Philadelphia Organizing Committee; and Blane Stoddart, co-founder of TJB and now president of the Young Caribbean Professional Network.
Sandra McCarthy, of the Caribbean Business Connections, presented a check to TJB from proceeds from the group’s annual fundraiser in December.
Reggae Girl Nicole McClure was special guest for the evening. She was presented with a citation from Jamaican-born Assemblyman Nick Perry and a citation on behalf of New York State Senator, Leroy Comrie, another Jamaican.
McClure said she was thankful for the recognition bestowed on her and spoke of “the place of honor and the pride” she felt in serving her country.
She also expressed gratitude to her family, soccer club and coaches for all they contributed to her development.
TJB chief executive officer and founder Irwine Clare, Snr. spoke of the journey over the past 25 years, growing from a small operation to where the organization is now.
He expressed gratitude to several entities and persons from the community for contributing and supporting TJB.
Clare highlighted significant achievements and milestones over that period, noting the flying of Jamaica’s flag since 1999 at the Penn Relays, the first foreign flag to be flown; and the visit of Prime Minister Portia Simpson-Miller in 2012, another first as she was the first foreign Head of State to do so.
In 2008, Clare recalled that TJB held a fundraising concert to aid in Jamaica’s Olympic effort, donating some US$20,000.00 from the proceeds.
BET covered and promoted the concert., which featured Richie Stephens, Etana and Coco Tea, among others.
Clare said clips from the concert were played at the opening and closing ceremonies of the 2008 Olympics, “a remarkable achievement.”
The position of premier sponsor of the Penn Relays being held by Grace Foods, a Jamaican company, rounded out the list, Clare said, stating that TJB introduced Jamaican companies to the Penn Relays 25 years ago.
Clare said this year is significant, with a trifecta of events: the 125th year anniversary of the Penn Relays, Jamaica observing 55 years of participation and TJB’s 25th year at the relays.
Some of the events planned to mark TJBs 25th year include a black-tie gala to be held at the Rochdale Village in Queens and a reception to be held in Jamaica, among others.
Clare thanked Dawn and Dennis Warren, along with Stephen Drummond and friends, who will be hosting a fundraising gala to benefit the organization in April.
“The initiative has grown by leaps and bounds over the years, having started with just about 200 student athletes, coaches and other support staff and officials,” said Clare of TJB efforts at the Penn Relays.
“Contingents have surpassed over 600 in peak years, with groups now coming from Trinidad & Tobago, Guyana and St. Vincent & The Grenadines.,” he added. “Many schools have come to rely on the assistance provided, as it helps to defray overall costs to prepare and send students to the relays.”