New York – Caribbean unity and cooperation will once again take center stage at the Penn Relays, as Team Jamaica Bickle, dons its `host-cap’ to welcome a large contingent of athletes from Jamaica, and across the region, namely; Trinidad and Tobago, St. Vincent & the Grenadines, and Grenada, to the ‘Bickle’ camp and as part of the Caribbean family at Penn. The organization has been a shining example of what that spirit of engagement can yield, and in the simplest terms. They have hosted Barbados, US Virgin Islands, and Guyana in past years and continue to embrace the requests as they come in.
“It’s a big tent, and an even bigger Caribbean presence, at these relays; the largest track event (outside of the Olympics), that attracts over 22,000 athletes,” said Irwine Clare, head of operations and founder of the organization. “We are happy to see the numbers from the region grow as other countries embrace this platform for their athletes. Team Jamaica Bickle is entering its 19th year at Penn, Jamaica, its 49th. We use the experiences gained to the greatest benefit of the athletes. It is also fitting that this atmosphere of care and camaraderie surround our youth. What better example and promise for the future of the region? We operate outside of the fray of politics and it is the right tone and message for our kids. That feeling of goodwill has to be fostered and preserved.”
Consul General of Grenada, Derrick James, heaped praises on the organization.
“I would like to extend commendations and appreciation to Team Jamaica Bickle for the unwavering support to the Jamaican athletes and the athletes of other Caribbean nations at the Penn Relays. Your Organization has embodied the principle that sports are not just games but about life, since talent is not the only competency that makes a great athlete. The skills of passion, dedication and motivation will get an athlete to the top; however, the support from organizations like yours is critical in the cultivation of character to keep them there. I am confident that this outreach from your organization will continue to produce the greatness that the world has seen from Usain Bolt and Kirani James.”
This is just the kind of tone that Team Jamaica Bickle embraces and encourages as it strives for Diasporic unity.
“We are neighbors, school-mates, parishioners and friends, here in the Diaspora. There is no greater feeling than knowing that we can find the things that connect us [as Caribbean people] and rally around them.” said Ms. Andrea Daley, public relations officer of the organization.
As the numbers grow the organization hopes to see simultaneous growth in enthusiasm and support from the fans, with the colors of all the other nations among the sea of Jamaican colors currently at Penn.
In preparation for the Penn Relays, the New York and Philadelphia chapters are ramping up activities to raise funds; from church services to fundraisers, it’s a total community effort.
The organization held its annual Awards and Fundraiser at Brooklyn Borough Hall, under the distinguished patronage of the Honorable Marty Markowitz, Brooklyn Borough President, on Tuesday April 16. This year’s honoree, was Olympian Deon Hemmings-McCatty, OD. Three of the Diaspora’s most active and engaged citizens were also be honored for their community work; Mr. Derrick James, Consul General of Grenada; Ms. Colette Cyrus-Burnett, CEO/owner, SuperWings; and Mr. G.S. O’Brien Simmons founder of the Bequia (St. Vincent) United Progressive Organization (BUPO). Hosts of the evenings reception were Tower Isle’s Patties Inc., long-time sponsor.
The West Indian Social Club in Hartford, Connecticut will welcomed Hemmings-McCatty to a reception in her honor on Saturday, April 13, while, on Saturday, April 20, the Jamaica Ex-Passport and Immigration officers Asociation, will hold a fundraiser in aid of the athletes. All proceeds will be donated to Team Jamaica Bickle.
The organization continues to receive solid support from its lifetime partner, Vincent HoSang/Caribbean Food Delights and the Vincent HoSang Family Foundation. Other sponsors are Grace Foods, Lime, Lomax Foundation, Grace Kennedy Remittance Services, the Union of Jamaica Alumni Associations (UJAA), and Fly Jamaica, with support from SuperWings, Tru Juice, The Door Restaurant ,Transcontinental Shippers and Total Caribbean Network,(TCN.