SOCHI BOUND: Jamaica Bobsled Team Crowd-Funding

Posted on: 3:51 pm, January 20, 2014, by

nbc winter olympics

(CNN) — Thanks to the kindness of strangers, a two-man Jamaican bobsled team may be able to raise the money needed to compete in the Sochi Olympics this year.

Thanks to the 1993 film “Cool Runnings,” many already know that this team has a very unusual story. The beloved underdogs overcame many struggles to appear in the 1988 Winter Olympic Games in Calgary, including borrowing sleds from other countries to compete and having little experience with bobsled tracks before the games. They showed exceptional spirit, however, and even though they crashed on one of their four runs, they were remembered fondly.

The team returned to the Winter Olympics in 1992 and 1994, but failed to qualify for the 2006 and 2010 Winter Olympics, so they’ve been waiting some time to compete. Now,they have a chance to do it again.

This year’s team is made up of only two men: driver Winston Watt and brakeman Marvin Dixon. To actually compete in the 2014 Olympics, the team needs funds to cover equipment and travel costs — and they are currently way short of their $80,000 goal. With no support from the Jamaica Olympic Association or private investors, it’s been up to the team to figure out how to get where they want to go.

The person that stepped in to help was not a family member, but a longtime fan of the team’s story, thanks to the film. Lincoln Wheeler, who has a verified campaign going on crowdsourcing site Crowdtilt, has raised more than $23,000 as of Monday afternoon. And there’s also a fundraising page on Indiegogo which has raised more than $17,000.

Crowdtilt Community Director Mary Yap told HLN Monday that the site is working with Wheeler to ensure that if the goal is met, the team gets the funds. Since Wheeler is a third party, he has agreed to allow the donations to go straight to Crowdtilt. Team Jamaica officially endorsed the Crowdtilt fundraiser Sunday.

“That’s why we’re looking for funding so that we can fulfill the dream,” Watt told CNN in an interview Monday. “We’re Jamaican, and we believe. It’s gonna happen.”

Watt’s prior coach, Randy Jones, told HLN that while this would be the team’s most expensive effort so far, he believes the two-man team has what it takes to make it to Sochi.

“Everything has always been out of pocket for them, which is how it is in the bobsled world, once you get started,” Jones told HLN. “But Watt believes in using what he has. He’s got the drive and desire to get it done.”

13now_smartphones_140
Never be out of the loop!

Take Channel 13 News everywhere you go