- Created on Wednesday, 29 January 2014 15:11
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By KRYSTA PUTMAN
“All I’m saying, mon, is if we walk Jamaican, talk Jamaican, and is Jamaican, then we sure as hell better bobsled Jamaican.” — Sanka Coffie from the movie Cool Runnings.
At 3 a.m. in Evanston, Wyo., Jamaican bobsled pilot Winston Watts received word from the International Bobsleigh and Skeleton Federation. He and brakeman Marvin Dixon qualified for the Sochi Olympics in February.
Watts will be the second-oldest bobsled driver in Winter Olympics history at age 46. That’s the good news. Unfortunately, with good news, sometimes bad news follows.
Watts told the world the duo didn’t have enough funding for the trip. He said that he had been self-funding the team’s efforts, and even dug into his savings to fly the team to the bobsledding qualifiers.
Finding little to no help from the Jamaican Olympic Association, the team was forced to turn elsewhere.
Many people were sympathetic to this underdog story and not about to let the team stay home. Enter virtual currency and digital crowdfunding.
In a movement that began on www.reddit.com, the Dogecoin Foundation used the opportunity to promote its virtual currency and help send the team to Sochi. In just a few short days the efforts had raised over 27 million Dogecoins, equal to $30,000 in actual currency.
Short of its $80,000 minimum goal, the team still had a long way to go – or so they thought.
A Jamaican bobsled fan launched a campaign on Crowdtilt to raise funds for the team long before the team’s president, Chris Stokes, and founding member of the Cool Runnings team, Devon Harris, did. In just three days, the combined campaigns had raised $129,587.
This outpouring of support made it possible for the Jamaican bobsled team to head to this year’s Olympic Games for the first time in 12 years.
As Irwin Blitzer said in Cool Runnings, “It doesn’t matter if they come in first or 50th. Those guys have earned the right to walk into that stadium and wave their nation’s flag. That’s the single greatest honor an athlete can ever have. That’s what the Olympics are all about.”