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Albertan Good Samaritan steps up to help Jamaican bobsledders get to race

Jazmine Fenlator-Victorian, the Jamaican womens bobsled team pilot, poses with a rental van the team will be driving from Calgary to Whistler that was donated by Driving Force in Calgary on Nov.14, 2016.

Lauren Krugel/THE CANADIAN PRESS

The Jamaican bobsled team has a reliable set of wheels to get to its next race.The team's van broke down in Calgary on the weekend on the way to a race at Canada Olympic Park. The athletes were able to make it to the track on time thanks to a Good Samaritan who shuttled them to their destination.

But making it to their next stop in Whistler, B.C., seemed hopeless, because repairs were astronomically expensive and would not have been completed in time, said women's team pilot Jazmine Fenlator-Victorian.

Driving Force, a vehicle rental and leasing company, got wind of the problem and offered the team a rental van and money for gas.

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The team is aiming to compete in the 2018 Winter Games in South Korea – exactly 30 years after its underdog appearance at the Calgary Olympics.

The story of the Jamaican bobsledders inspired the Disney movie "Cool Runnings" starring John Candy.

"The Jamaican bobsled team definitely considers Calgary one of its second homes," Fenlator-Victorian said Monday after picking up the keys to the team's new ride – a 15-seat Ford transit van.

"For Calgary to step up and be a part of that really means a lot to us, because this is where it all started for us."

As a sponsor for the Canadian team, helping out the Jamaican bobsledders in a pinch was a natural move, said Driving Force vice-president Craig Strachan.

"I guess we felt that it was the right thing to do."

Training for the race starts Wednesday, so the bobsledders are on a tight schedule.

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The 12-member team was to depart Calgary at 3 a.m. Tuesday in anticipation of bad weather forecast for the mountains.

Calgarians have offered food for the journey and teammates will take turns driving.

From Whistler, the bobsledders will be able to take the van to another race in Park City, Utah, and return it to Calgary before the holidays.

After that, the financial situation is unclear, said Fenlator-Victorian.

"It's very, very difficult for us to find the funding to continue to perform at the highest level of the sport. We do a lot of crowdfunding. We do a lot of appearances, but bobsled is expensive."

"A lot of things are on the bubble, but luckily the second half of the season starts January, so in December we'll have a lot of work to do."

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