TJB On Penn Relays/Caricom Corps Meeting

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Team Jamaica Bickle at 115th Penn Relays. (Hayden Roger Celestin image)
News Americas, NEW YORK, N.Y., Fri. Feb. 1, 2013: On the heels of a meeting between The Penn Relay Carnival and the Caribbean Consular Corps, the founder of the non-profit group that spearheads the feeding, housing and care of Caribbean athletes at the annual relays is questioning whether the benefits to the Caribbean community will now improve.

Irwine Clare, founder of the 18th year-old non-profit group Team Jamaica Bickle, which raises funds annually to care for Caribbean athletes participating in the Penn Relays, says while he applauds the meeting, he is hopeful that the Consular Corps will now make sure the benefits to the Caribbean community in the Diaspora is reciprocal.

“Will Penn Relays be advertising in the Caribbean media, where so many travel from to support this event? Will they be opening up opportunities for Caribbean vendors to participate and will Caribbean athletes be given scholarships, housed or fed for free?” questioned Clare.

TJB was the first Jamaican organization to be a participating sponsor in 199 which led to the Jamaican flag being flown at the Penn Relays; the first foreign flag to make an appearance there. Yet each year, the group has to beg for donations from Caribbean small business owners and Diaspora nationals to help fund the hotel, travel, food and phone call costs that many Caribbean athletes who travel to the relays to run, cannot afford.

Olympians Usain Bolt, Veronica Campbell-Brown and Shelly Ann Fraser-Pryce are among the many Caribbean athletes who have benefited from the volunteer service provided by TJB.

Dave Johnson, The Frank Dolson Director of The Penn Relays, says he is “hopeful this meeting with representatives of CARICOM helps strengthen our relationship with the Caribbean schools which come annually to the Relays, and forges new relationships with schools which want to come this year and in the future.”
Penn Relays, in a statement, added that the meeting on Jan. 30th was done with the “hopes of strengthening the bond that already exists.”

The session was hosted at the Jamaican Consulate General, Herman LaMont and other representatives included those from Antigua-Barbuda, Bahamas, Barbados, Haiti, and St. Lucia.

The 2013 Penn Relays will take place April 25-27 at Penn’s historic Franklin Field in Philadelphia.

C.K. Buddington, chairman of the Board of the Friends of the Penn Relays, which was also part of the meeting, said: “Community relations is one of the cornerstones of the Friends of the Penn Relays, and this first meeting with CARICOM is exciting because it strengthens and extends our community on the international level.”