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Crowdfunding nets Jamaican sledders $120K, enough for Sochi trip

By Mike Singer | CBSSports.com

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Could there be a sequel to the hit Disney movie? (Jamaicabobsleighteam.com)

UPDATE: On Tuesday, with the help of generous donations, the Jamaican bobsled team surpassed its previous goal and netted more than $120,000 from various crowdfunding websites. The team, which will use the money to upgrade their equipment and help ship the sled to Russia, stopped collecting funds because they don't want people to see them as "crooks".

"We want people to have positive thoughts about us from this little tiny island," Winston Watts told Today.com. "It's so overwhelming that we have so many fans out there. The whole nation has come together and donated the funds for us," he added.

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UPDATE: The Jamaican Olympic Association announced on Monday that it would cover the team's travel costs, meaning that the team will be taking part in the Winter Olympics. The organization is, however, still collecting donations as there are still "very real cost considerations" regarding equipment and practice fees, according the general manager of the Jamaican Bobsled Federation.

"We want to make the most of it and collect as much funds as we can," Chris Stokes said to Buzzfeed, "so that the next generation of Jamaican bobsledders can have a fair start."

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First it was a question of whether the two-man Jamaican bobsled team would qualify for Sochi, and now that that issue has been resolved, the next obstacle for Winston Watts and Marvin Dixon will be funding their Olympic dreams.

ESPN reported that in just two days, a crowdsourcing website has collected more than $25,000 towards the Jamaicans' stated $80,000 goal, which would get the team to Sochi.

Chris Stokes, the general manager of the Jamaican Bobsled Federation, wouldn't go so far as to compare this year's team's budget to that of the one made famous in Cool Runnings, but he did say it hasn't been, ahem, easy sledding.

“We have not come close to covering our costs,” Stokes told ESPN. “We have many outstanding obligations and we have to pay three more weeks of training. We've had very lonely days when we struggled to make ends meet by borrowing equipment. Our guys haven't had the proper jackets.”

So maybe it's not an entirely unfair comparison to the Disney movie.

CrowdTilt – the website hosting the donations – said that 70 percent of the donations came via debit or credit card transactions from at least 42 states. Twenty percent came from funds with Jamaican origins, the report noted.

Lincoln Wheeler, a consultant who lives in Washington, D.C. said that he was motivated to start the crowd-funding effort after Jamaica's official team website crashed due to the recent traffic boom.

“Obviously the movie had some influence,” Wheeler said. “But I think this also became about the idea that we, as fans, could have an opportunity to influence sports.”

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