Crowdfunding their way to the Olympics

Cool Runnings was in need of some cool cash. The Jamaican bobsled team, which charmed the world in the 1988 Winter Olympics with its unlikely appearance in the games, will return this year but it may not have been able to attend if it weren't for the generosity of the crowdfunding community. The team officially qualified for the Sochi Games on Jan. 18. Instead of celebrating, though, it faced a major cash crisis. Sled driver Winston Watts had mentioned to The Associated Press in an interview soon after qualifying that the two-man team, which has no sponsor, needed as much as $80,000 in the next couple weeks to cover travel and equipment costs. That's when the fans stepped in. Lincoln Wheeler, a fan of the Winter Games (with no connection to the Jamaican team), launched a grassroots funding drive within hours on the crowdfunding site Crowdtilt. And by Tuesday, it had raised more than $115,000, far surpassing its goal. Crowdtilt wasn't the only fundraising campaign for the team. Another, on indiegogo.com had topped $40,000 Tuesday. And users of the virtual currency Dogecoin donated $30,000, which was added to the Crowdtilt totals Monday night, helping push the figure above its target. "This is the Internet coming together," Crowdtilt CEO James Beshara said in an interview. "This is something that couldn't have been done five years ago."