Team Jamaica Bickle celebrates 30th anniversary

Jamaica Consul General Alsion Wilson presenting award to Irwine Clare. Also in picture are Dr. Anthony Munroe, pesident of BMCC and Stacey Osbourne, of Team Jamaica Bickle.
Photo courtesy Jamaica Consulate General New York

Team Jamaica Bickle, Inc. (TJB), the Jamaica, Queens-based philanthropist organization that provides hospitality service to Jamaican and Caribbean athletes at the illustrious Penn Relays Carnival, at Franklin Field Stadium, at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, is celebrating its 30th anniversary this month.

“TJB at 30, who would have though?” asked Irwine G. Clare, Sr., OD (Order of Distinction), TJB chief executive officer and chairman, in a Caribbean Life interview on Monday. “TJB, a model in sports philanthropy volunteerism and patriotism, celebrates 30 years of continued support to the welfare of Jamaican and Caribbean athletes participating most notably at the Penn Relays, the longest running athletic relays in the world.”

From humble beginnings, with the renting of an eight-foot GE Trailer in a University of Pennsylvania parking lot, adjacent to Franklin Field, Claire said TJB began its work to initially provide meals to all student athletes from Jamaica participating at the Relays.

In later years, as TJB transitioned to one of the larger tents erected at the relays, Clare said it became the hub, “the central point for our athletes’ welfare, “inclusive of food, medical, chiropractic, dental, home away from home.”

Today, he said TJB is hosted in the Palestra, the university’s landmark basketball arena.

“As they would say, ‘we have come a far way’”, said Clare, stating that TJB now also assists with hotel accommodation, transportation, food, insurance and scholarships.

“Thirty years are a significant milestone for any organization under normal circumstances, he added. “For TJB, we always have to remain, at a minimum, relevant to our athletes’ needs and, in most cases, create new opportunities. In other words, every year we raise the bar.

“In order to accomplish our goals, it takes ‘cash to care’ and, as such, (we) continually fundraise via many formats,” Clare continued.

He said the “Labor of Love” series of fundraisers is headlined by TJB’s “Labor of Love Luncheon – Black Tie & Sneakers Gala,” which will be held on April 14, at the Cresthollow Country Club, Woodbury, Long Is.

He said several other events are planned for the year’s celebration.

“Visit TeamJamaicaBickle@org and, while there, please make a donation,” Clare urged. “I am honored to serve our athletes from the Caribbean in all sporting genres.”

In May last year, the Consulate General of Jamaica New York presented to Clarean award and citation in recognition of his outstanding leadership of TJB and its “illustrious team of volunteers.”

“Mr. Clare has served as chairman of Team Jamaica Bickle for 29 years and has been a tireless advocate for athlete development, from high school through college and beyond,” said the Consulate General in a statement then. “His visionary leadership has led the Team Jamaica Bickle initiative to provide automatic defibrillators for schools, improving the safety and health of young athletes in Jamaica and the Caribbean.”

The Consulate General of Jamaica New York said the citation was presented to Clare by Consul General Alsion Wilson at the TJB village at Penn Relays in Philadelphia on April 29, 2023.

“The award is a symbol of admiration and gratitude from the Consulate General of Jamaica New York to Mr. Clare and his team of dedicated volunteers, who have had a profound impact on countless athletes and their families, transforming their lives for the better,” the statement said.

Clare – who is also managing director of the Jamaica, Queens-based Caribbean Immigrant Services, Inc. (CIS) – told Caribbean Life that he was “truly honored and thankful to be recognized by the Consulate of Jamaica NY notably by Consul General Alsion Wilson for this distinguished and inaugural citation.”

He said he was “indeed grateful and vow to continue in playing my part in fostering opportunities for our young people through sports.”

Clare said TJB was formed in 1994 and later designated a 501(c)(3) organization. The affiliated TJB-Philadelphia Organizing Committee was simultaneously formed by co-founder Blane Stoddart, who now heads the affiliated Friends of Team Jamaica Bickle, also based in Philadelphia, PA.

Clare said TJB’s mission is embodied in the motto, “Our Athletes, Our Ambassadors.”

He said TJB’s services extend to a delegation of about 650 students and coaches from Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, St. Vincent & The Grenadines, Guyana and Grenada.

Over the years, Clare said TJB has welcomed and extended its services to delegations of students and coaches from the United States Virgin Islands (USVI), Bahamas, Barbados and, most recent, Belize.

In 1999, Clare said TJB became the first Jamaican organization to be a participating sponsor at the Penn Relays.

As a result, he said the Jamaican flag became the first foreign flag to be flown at the Penn Relays, “a distinction unmatched.”

Over the years, Clare said TJB has received numerous proclamations and awards from several local and national entities.