WASHINGTON — Jamaica's Ambassador to the United States, Her Excellency Audrey Marks, has lauded Team Jamaica Bickle (TJB) for its support of Jamaican athletes, who participate in the Penn Relays in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania each year.
“I am pleased to salute Team Jamaica Bickle which, through its effort of giving back, has helped to touch the lives of our young athletes, who participate in Penn Relays and have done their country proud. This achievement of the athletes would not have been possible without the support of our wonderful volunteers at Team Jamaica Bickle and members of the Diaspora,” she stated.
Ambassador Markswas addressing the group of volunteers on Friday (April 29) at the “Jamaica Village” mounted on the Franklin Field grounds, University of Pennsylvania, where the 2011 Penn Relays were held from April 28 to 30.She was TJB's patron for the weekend meet.
According to the Ambassador, it is estimated that the organisation has spent close to $95.2 million (US$1.1 million) over the past 17 years to “assist these athletes, who lay it all on the line in pursuit of personal and national glory on the field."
Among the services provided are meals, transportation, physical therapy and other medical care, while subsidised hotel and air fares are also negotiated.
Ambassador Marks noted that the Jamaica Village, which is mounted in collaboration with Caribbean Food Delights, makes the Penn Relays a nurturing experience for the athletes by providing them with Jamaican meals and refreshment.
She had high praises for TJB’s founder and Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Erwin Claire and CEO of Caribbean Food Delights, Jamaican Vincent HoSang, who was presented with an award for contributing time and resources to support local athletes at the Penn Relays for more than 10 years.
Mr. Claire, in his remarks, said that this year, for the first time, the organisation hosted 120 athletes from Trinidad and Tobago, Barbados, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, in addition to the more than 500 athletes and coaches from Jamaica, at a cost of approximately US$80,000.
“We recognise the power of these athletes and we consider them brand ambassadors for their countries each time they step on the field. We consider it our duty to ensure that they are kept safe, fed and cared for, especially since they are on foreign soil,” he said.
The oldest and largest track and field competition in the United States, the Penn Relays has been hosted annually since April 21, 1895 by the University of Pennsylvania at Franklin Field.
In 1999, Team Jamaica Bickle became the first Jamaican organisation to be a participating sponsor of the event. As a result, the Jamaican flag became the first foreign flag to be flown at the international meet. Over the years, TJB has received numerous proclamations and awards for its work.
By DERRICK SCOTT, JIS INFORMATION ATTACHE