Team Jamaica Bickle presses on amid challenges

Irwine Claire.
Donovan Gopie

The New York-based Team Jamaica Bickle (TJB), which provides support to Caribbean athletes at the annual Penn Relays Carnival in Philadelphia, said it will enter the 2017 season hampered by the lack of funding “but armed with the same level of enthusiasm that inspired the organization’s genesis some 23 years ago.”

“The landscape has changed tremendously as more schools, and hence more students, compete at the Penn Relays,” said the non-profit organization, head by Jamaican Irwin Clare. “As a result, the demand for services provided by the organization is greater.”

Team Jamaica Bickle hosts athletes from Jamaica, Trinidad & Tobago, Grenada, St. Vincent & The Grenadines, and Guyana.

Services provided cover, three hot meals daily, ground transportation, chiropractic and medical services, as well as assistance with hotel accommodation.

“The challenge of fundraising is not new, but against the backdrop of operational changes at the Penn Relays, where corporate sponsorship now falls under the Penn Relays management ambit, it makes for a tougher time for the New York-based not for profit,” the statement said.

The range of activities planned include: The annual breakfast in New York, which is now in its fifth year, as well a brunch held in Philadelphia; three church services across the boroughs and one in Philadelphia; and, for the first time, a (proposed) “Bickle Week” in New York. The tentative dates are, April 18-25.

Participating restaurants will donate proceeds from sales to the organization, Team Jamaica Bickle said.

Additionally, it said there is Caribbean Cuisine Week, April 25-28 in Philadelphia, organized by Young Caribbean Professional Network (YCPN), to also assist in fundraising efforts.

“As things change, we have to constantly innovate when it comes to fundraising,” said Chief Executive Officer Clare. “What we have seen in recent years is a willingness of individuals to host private events to assist us.

“We are a resilient organization,” he added. “We continue to diversify our efforts and solidify our mission, as our athletes and ambassadors remain our priority.”

Through the years, TJB said it has also lent assistance to other sport organizations and athletes.

Its most recent was the hosting of Special Olympic athletes in New York.

TJB said the group was en-route to the Special Olympics in Austria. The group was treated to brunch and care packages.

TJB is also in its fourth year of its “Defibrillator to Schools,” as it seeks to outfit as many as possible high schools in Jamaica with a unit.

Donations to TJB may be made at www.teamjamaicabickle.org or by mail to 242-14 Merrick Blvd., Rosedale, NY 11422; T. 718.523.2861.

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