Team Jamaica Bickle, the Queens-based organization that supports Caribbean athletes at the prestigious Penn Relays in Philadelphia, says it is preparing for its 24th hosting of the athletes with a plethora of activities in the weeks leading up to the April 26-28 event.
“These activities are crucial to the organization’s ability to underwrite its program, one which provides meals, transportation, hotel assistance and medical care for the hundreds of Caribbean athletes, hailing from Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, St. Vincent and The Grenadines, and Guyana who will be competing on the track,” said the group in a statement.
Irwine Clare, the Jamaican-born chief executive officer of Team Jamaica Bickle, said, over the last few years, “we have seen a dwindling of sponsorship funds.
“So, we’ve had to diversify our fundraising efforts,” he said. “We are fortunate to have friends and business associates who have stepped up and are hosting private events to raise funds on our behalf.
“That is the Diaspora pulling together for the greater good of our community,” Clare added.
The organization kicked off its 2018 season with a launch Thursday, April 12 at Sandz Bar & Grille in Queens.
Hot on the heels of the launch is a “Seafood Delight,” event on Friday, April 13 at Anoz Spa in Garden City, L.I., and the first of two church services at Lenox Road Baptist Church in Brooklyn on Sunday, April 15.
On Wednesday, April 18, the Philadelphia Chapter will hold its annual Community Awards & Reception, followed by a Cocktail Reception hosted by the Visiting Angels Living Assistance Agency in Hoboken, NJ on Thursday April 19.
The annual breakfast in New York will be held April 21 at the St. Luke’s Episcopal Church Hall in the Bronx.
The finale is a worship service with the St. John’s UMC in Valley Stream on April 22.
A major highlight for the organization this year is the naming of Romain Virgo, one of Jamaica’s young, rising reggae stars, as its ambassador for the 2018-2019 season — a collaboration that runs into its 25th anniversary year.
Team Jamaica Bickle said Romain has committed 75 percent of proceeds from the download of the song, “Still,” from the album, “Lovesick” to Team Jamaica Bickle.
Romain will make an appearance at this year’s Penn Relays, on Saturday, April 28, where he’ll perform at the TJB Village to close the event.
“The marriage of sport and entertainment is one that is exciting and we hope to get tremendous mileage from this union,” said Andrea Daley, public relations officer, Team Jamaica Bickle.
She said an exclusive raffle, asking for a donation of US$10, rounds out the activity schedule and will culminate in a draw Saturday, April 28 at the closing ceremony.
Daley said the MANNA (medical attention and nutrition now for athletes) raffle offers a grand prize of five days / four nights at the all-inclusive Sandals Jamaica, coupled with a Catamaran Cruise, courtesy Island Routes and an US$800 travel voucher to cover air-fare.
Proceeds are dedicated mainly to outfitting all high schools in Jamaica with life-saving defibrillators, Daley said.
Since starting the program in 2014, over 45 schools have received units., she said.
Main Sponsors for this year’s activities are Caribbean Food Delights, Tower Isles Patties, Grace Foods, Union of Jamaica Alumni Association (UJAA), JTB, Sandals, Island Routes, The ROC – Restaurant Owners Corp and Caribbean Business Connections.
Supporting sponsors: Warren, Warren & Appolon, Visiting Angels Living Assistance, Paulette & Howard Bradnock, Westbury Toyota, Homesmart Realty, Larry & Nancy Pantier Foundation, Irie Butterfly Foundation, Jamaica Breezes Restaurant, Genesis Restaurant, Annmarie Landel, and the Law offices of Drummond & Squillace and Sandra Smith, Esq.