Sport

Team Jamaica Bickle readies for Penns challenge

BY PAUL A REID Observer writer reidp@jamaicaobserver.com

Tuesday, April 01, 2014    

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FEEDING, subsidising rooms and transporting over 700 athletes from Jamaica for the Penn Relays each year does not come cheap or easy.

So complex are the numbers at times that it can be elusive to even those involved in crunching them.

Team Jamaica Bickle (TJB), the US- based umbrella organisation that has been taking care of the Jamaican high schools and now college athletes at the annual Penn Relays Carnival, needs to raise in excess of US$100,000 in hard cash this year alone to take care of their obligations.

Add this to another $300,000 and one gets a better idea of the cost to run the organisation that now functions as a well-oiled machine 12 months a year.

What was not included in that budget was the cost to house the athletes at the official team hotels, which the schools themselves would pay for. In this, TJB would play facilitator in securing the number of rooms based on requests from the schools.

At the Jamaica Observer's Monday Exchange held at the newspaper's Beechwood Avenue headquarters yesterday, Irwine Clare, founder and chief executive officer for TJB, said he was "confident" this year's budget would be met through fund-raising and outreach efforts.

"It's a challenge each year to raise funds," he explained, especially in what was now a very competitive environment with nearly 50 alumni organisations also trying to raise funds in that same market.

One cost that was going up because of a change in the dynamics of how the teams operated was ground transportation, Clare pointed out. Given the cheaper airline tickets into New York than Philadelphia, many schools have availed themselves of this and had to be bussed to Philadelphia and back to New York at the end of the event, all at the cost of TJB through their alliance with the 'dollar bus' operators out of New York.

The over 100 volunteers who are selected each year contribute another $250,000 worth of manpower labour and services with contributions coming from a variety of other organisations, including large and small restaurants both in New York and Philadelphia. Larger organisations contribute rehydration fluids, snacks, etc.

For the past 10 years or so, TJB has organised their own awards ceremony following the Penn Relays, recognising the outstanding individuals and relay teams with attractive prizes from a variety of sponsors.

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