Good news for Jamaica – its two-man bobsled team has qualified for next month’s Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. The bad news is that the team lacks the funding it needs to participate at the games. Jamaica needs help to raise the $80,000 it will take to cover its travel and equipment costs.
Jamaican sled driver Winston Watts discussed the dire situation with the Associated Press on Saturday. “Right now we’re at zero,” he said. Watts also said they were doing their best to raise money before the start of the games.
Jamaica is a tropical country — it doesn’t snow there. Somehow in 1988 the team qualified for the Winter Olympics in Calgary anyway. The team’s Calgary debut did not produce any medals but its amazing feat was an inspiration to many. Disney even made the movie ‘Cool Runnings’ based on their story. Since then the team has continued to fare well in international competition but is often plagued by lack of funding.
On Sunday, word reached the internet regarding the team’s dilemma. A random fan of the team responded by initiating a fundraising campaign through Crowdtilt.com, an online crowdsource service. By Monday afternoon, donations had already surged passed $30,000. It seems there is hope for the team yet.
A spokesman of Crowdtilt.com said they were confident the $80,000 target will be met if the campaign continues to go viral .The spokesman also said that for now the money raised will be controlled by Crowdtilt but will be wired directly to the Jamaican Bobsleigh Federation once the goal is met.
Jamaican Bobsleigh Federation Secretary Chris Stokes admitted he had never heard of Crowdtilt until just recently and at first wasn’t sure if it was a genuine fundraiser. Nonetheless, team Jamaica did go ahead and approve the campaign and shortly after, launched a separate fundraiser of its own via Indiegogo, another online crowdsource platform.
— Team Jamaica (@JamaicaOlympics) January 20, 2014
It’s been 12 years since Jamaica had a sled in the Olympics and they will certainly do everything within their power to be in Russia next month. Let’s hope they make it.
Jamaica’s Winter Olympics Debut: Calgary 1988
Image via YouTube