Grace renews support to Jamaican athletes

For Jamaicans who live overseas, Grace Foods is a symbol of authentic and uncompromisingly delicious Jamaican foods, and this year Grace will again throw its support behind the prestigious Penn Relays, with severals initiatives directed at benefiting both athletes and spectators, who are expected to descend on the April 23-25 meet.

Now in its 121st year, the Penn Relays, hosted by the University of Pennsylvania, has long been a prominent exhibition for Jamaican high-school teams against a rich backdrop of Jamaican supporters. The company’s involvement at Penn Relays is part of a larger commitment that Grace Foods has undertaken to foster and promote the development of Jamaica’s track and field program. Only a few weeks ago, Grace Kennedy was again the lead sponsor of the ISSA Boys & Girls Championship, familiarly called ‘Champs’, at the National Stadium in Kingston, Jamaica that saw the shattering of the national junior 400 meters record, blazed by KC’s Akeen Bloomfield in 44.93 seconds and several other high school records.

Grace Kennedy has been involved with Champs since 2007 as title sponsors of the event. With sponsorship assistance from Grace, Jamaican rising track and field stars have managed to maintain their dominance on the world stage, always bringing much glory to the black, gold and green. The company’s support of Jamaican athletes will continue in Pennsylvania this year with Grace Foods providing food and beverages through its sponsorship of Team Jamaica Bickle (TJB) which will host hundreds of Caribbean high school athletes along with Caribbean Food Delights.

“Grace is pleased to continue its support to TJB and the Penn Relays annual event. The relays serve as a wonderful opportunity to showcase the prowess of a number of our top athletes from Jamaica and the wider Caribbean” said Michael Ranglin, president and CEO of GraceKennedy USA LLC. “Our participation at the Penn Relays is also a great way to build awareness of our Food brand, interact with our consumers and to be exposed to a wider audience.”

TJB has been a shining example of what the spirit of engagement can yield. The organization dons its host-cap’ to welcome athletes, coaches and volunteers from Jamaica and across the region, namely; Trinidad and Tobago, St. Vincent & the Grenadines, team Bahamas and a growing list of high school alumni athletes, who now compete for various US colleges to the ‘Bickle’ camp and as part of the Caribbean family at Penn. They have hosted athletes from Barbados, US Virgin Islands, and Guyana in past years and continue to embrace the requests as they come in.

“As we prepare for our 21st year of hosting our athletes, our ambassadors, Team Jamaica Bickle, an organization driven by a solid core of volunteers that give of their time and resources recommits and eagerly awaits to serve. Thanks and appreciation to sponsors such as GraceKennedy whom we have partnered with and now are a major presence at the Relays” Irwine Clare, founder and CEO of TJB said.

Dave Johnson, The Frank Dolson director of Penn Relays, says patrons attending this year’s Penn Relays Carnival can expect three exciting days of top-flight competition on the track.

“I expect the level of competition to be as great as ever, particularly after seeing the results of Boys and Girls Champs. And with this being a World Championships year as well as a World Relays Championships year, the level of competition could make this one of the great years ever.”

Johnson noted that having Grace on board as a major sponsor helps strengthen the bonds between Jamaica and the Penn Relays.

“Anything Grace does to make the visiting Jamaicans feel a bit more at home must help their comfort level, and for Americans, anything that brings a bit of the island to Philadelphia helps reinforce the notion of the Relays as an internationally significant event” he said.

As is customary, Grace will sponsor eight championship events including the High School Girls’ 4×100, 4×400 & 4×800 Championship of America races on Friday, April 24 and the High School Boys 400m Hurdles Championship; High School Boys’ 4×100, 4×400 & 4×800 Championship of America and the College Men’s 4×200 Championship of America races on Saturday, April 25.

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