Team Jamaica Bickle, Inc., the New York-based not-for-profit organization that provides much-needed support for Jamaican athletes who compete at the annual Penn Relay Carnival at the University of Pennsylvania (UPENN) in Philadelphia, says it will begin welcoming athletes from across the Caribbean early this week.
The annual Penn Relay takes place from Thursday through Saturday.
Athletes will arrive from several high schools and a handful of colleges in Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, St. Vincent & The Grenadines, Guyana and Barbados, Team Jamaica Bickle said.
The organization provides ground transportation, hot meals, chiropractic care and coordinated hotel accommodation, among other services, to the athletes during their stay in Philadelphia.
“With 23 years of hosting, under its belt, it is a routine that they are well used to,” said Team Jamaica Bickle in a statement. “It involves early mornings to ensure buses move on time to get athletes to the stadium for competition, to getting breakfast started before the crack of dawn for those early competitors.”
Team Jamaica Bickle said the “village is a hub of activity.”
“The huge tent is a meeting spot for the entire contingent,” it said. “It is where sponsors, friends and fans converge. The large commercial grade kitchen from which meals are served daily is operated by the organization’s founding partner, Caribbean Food Delights.
“Athletes throughout the years have come to expect great Caribbean hospitality; a warm spot in what can be a cold Philadelphia during these relays,” it added, stating that the week of preparation is “a culmination of planning of activities that begin as early as fall of the previous year.”
Throughout the months leading up to the relays, Team Jamaica Bickle said the organization and its cadre of volunteers engage in various fundraising activities from New York to Philadelphia to underwrite its huge budget.
“Fundraising is necessary for our survival,” said founder and chief executive officer Irwine Clare. “Corporate support is not as it used to be, so we are pushed to increase our activities, especially at the community level.
“Our appeal is for the community to donate more as their donations to us, as a not-for-profit, are tax deductible,” he added. “We are proud of our athletes; let’s put our money where our mouth is.”
For more information on Team Jamaica Bickle or to lend your support, please call (718) 523-2861 or email teamj