Race to Penns
• Hydel coach trusting in God to get team to relay festival• Grateful for donations to date
COREY BENNETT, head coach of Hydel High School, which placed second at the recently concluded ISSA/GraceKennedy Boys and Girls’ Athletics Championships in Jamaica, is optimistic that the girls’ 4x100 and 4x400-metre teams will be among the athletes competing at the 2022 Penn Relays Carnival, which takes place at the Franklin Field in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania from April 28-30. The budget for the team is approximately US$6,000 (J$924,000), the bulk of which is airfare and lodging.
Bennett is, however, giving thanks for the combined efforts of the Florida-based SupaJamz radio and Team Jamaica Bickle (TJB) for assisting the team. Supa Jamz raised US$2,000 (J$310,000) with an additional US$500 (J$77,000) coming from TJB.
Irwine Clare, founder and CEO of TJB, handed over a cheque to Hydel’s principal Samara Salmon, two days after the conclusion of Boys and Girls’ Championships.
‘OWN THE PROJECT’
The fundraising effort, Clare said, took on a life of its own after he was interviewed on Supa Jamz radio by Jimmy Bascom, Jr Black and Anthony Turner, where he made a plea, requesting the station ‘own the project’ of getting Hydel to Penns.
“They went to their audience and quickly raised the necessary funds. TJB will continue to harness and leverage opportunities for all our athletes. For the past 28 years, we have provided meals, transportation, discounted accommodation, medical, chiropractic services for the schools via partnerships to accomplish these goals. We do deploy a very aggressive fundraising endeavour,” said Clare.
“Hydel is a powerhouse in track and field in Jamaica. They, however, do not have an active alumni association, as such they are unable to effectively tap into the philanthropic sector,” Clare stated.
A grateful Bennett said the Supa Jamz and TJB efforts were unreal, and something that has never been done for the athletics team before.
“I really appreciate the effort. They did not know us and they reached out to help. I can’t even explain how it feels. We would have loved to carry the male 4x800 team but unfortunately the funds are not there. In the future maybe,” said Bennett.
In addition to the cash donation, TJB will provide discounted accommodation, ground transportation and food while the team is in Philly. Commenting on his motivation for assisting the team, Clare said they possess some very talented athletes, including new Champs 200 metre record holder, Brianna Lyston, who deserve to showcase their talent on the international stage.
Looking back at some of the financial challenges the team has faced, Bennett said, “We had accommodation, food and transportation issues, even to go to Champs.”
“We had to cut our team all the way down. I really hope the day will come when we don’t have to think about finances and we can get our kids to the championship to compete,” he said.