Team Jamaica Bickle will begin welcoming athletes from across the Caribbean early next week to the annual Penn Relays Carnival held at the University of Pennsylvania, which takes place April 27 thru 29. Athletes will arrive from dozens of high schools and a handful of colleges in Jamaica; from Trinidad and Tobago, St. Vincent & The Grenadines; Guyana and Barbados.
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 year of hosting, under its belt, it is a routine that they are well used to. 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. The Team Jamaica Bickle Village is a hub of activity. The huge tent is a meeting spot for the entire contingent. 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.
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 into the relays, 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,” says Irwine Clare CEO. “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. We are proud of our athletes; let’s put our money where our mouth is.”