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Penn Relays host Team Jamaica Bickle loss of Jamaica National Overseas sponsorship

Jared Mccallister

Sunday, March 28th 2010, 4:00 AM
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The Queens-based Team Jamaica Bickle hospitality effort for Caribbean athletes participating in the Penn Relays scholastic track and field meet in Philadelphia are taking the good with the bad this year: accepting a request to host 50 high school students and coaches from Trinidad and Tobago while coping with the loss of a main financial sponsor.

This year, support from New York's Trinidadian and Jamaican communities, new corporate sponsors and track fans will be needed to make it all happen, said Team Jamaica Bickle (TJB) founder Irwine Clare.

"We're proceeding as if it's going to happen" said Clare, noting that TJB has already reserved discount hotel rooms for students and coaches from St. Anthony's College, St. Joseph's Convent, Queens Royal College, Bishop Anstey High School and St. Francois College for Girls.

The Penn Relays, a premier U.S. track and field event for high school, college and Olympic-level athletes, takes place April 22-25.

In addition to the Trinidadian athletes, an estimated 500 students and coaches from as many as 25 Jamaican high schools will be housed, fed and counseled under the supervision of TJB volunteers during their time at Penn Relays.

Clare said the reduced contribution from Jamaican foods manufacturer Grace Foods and the loss of Jamaica National Overseas as a sponsor are a severe blow to the group. But he thanked the Union of Jamaican Alumni Associations, which has "stepped up to the plate" and made "solid" contributions. He also thanked Caribbean Foods Delight, which provides familiar Caribbean foods for athletes during the event.

Steps to compensate for the loss of major contributions from the Jamaica National Overseas financial firm include the "We Are One Caribbean" and "We Are One Jamaica" initiatives, part of fund-raising partnership with NetLinkz Group management consulting and business development firm.

A $25-per-person prix fixe Caribbean brunch on Saturday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Negril Village , 70 W. Third St. in Manhattan, is the first fund-raising event. Special T-shirts, designed by Trinidad-Tobago native Lisa Henderson's Tone Graphics, are being sold to raise money.

This year's Team Jamaica Bickle annual Penn Relays Launch Reception will be held April 16 at Luntey Commons Room of Long Island University's Brooklyn campus, from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. Special guest will be Jamaican Olympic medalist Alexandra (Sandie) Richards.

To RSVP for the Penn Relays Launch or get Team Jamaica Bickle information, call (718) 523-2861 or send e-mail to And for brunch reservations, call Negril Village at (212) 477-2804.

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