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To Sochi! Dogecoin community funds $7,000 Olympic ‘miracle’ for Indian athletes

Dogecoin is sending yet another team to the moon the 2014 Winter Olympic Games.

A week after raising more than $30,000 to help fund the Jamaican bobsled team’s trip to Sochi, the Dogecoin community has stepped up with nearly $7,000 in donations of the meme-themed virtual currency to help send three athletes from India to the 2014 Games.

Dogecoin’s latest charitable run picked up steam on Wednesday when a Reddit user posted a link to a Washington Post article about Shiva Keshavan, a luge athlete from India who has self-funded his athletic career through donations and sponsorships, and two Indian skiers, Himanshu Thakur and Nadeem Iqbal, who qualified for this year’s Olympics in Sochi, Russia, but did not have sufficient funds to pay their way. It was the final paragraphs of the article that pulled at the Dogecoin community’s heartstrings (and wallets).

From the Post:

India’s sports ministry agreed to help the athletes defray the costs of competing at Sochi. Keshavan received sufficient funds, but it has been unclear whether the other two competitors can afford to make the trip. Roshan Lal Thakur, secretary general of the Winter Games Federation of India, said he has finally received three-quarters of the$22,000 needed to send the alpine skier Himanshu Thakur and cross-country skier Nadeem Iqbal and their coaches to the Games. Still, he doesn’t know where he will get the rest.

“Maybe I have to borrow from friends,” he said. “Some miracle will happen, no?”

shiva-keshavan

Some miracle will happen indeed. Within hours on Wednesday, Dogecoin users had raised roughly $4,500 worth of Dogecoin. And as of this writing, the balance sits at about $6,700 – more than enough to reach the $22,000 total needed – according to Ben Doernberg, a member of the Dogecoin Foundation, which helps facilitate the Dogecoin community’s charitable efforts. Nearly 470 people have donated to the fund, with amounts ranging from as little as 2 Doge to one donation of 3,000,000 doge or about $4,700, at current exchange rates.

As chance would have it, one redditor was able to get in touch with Keshavan’s wife, Namita, who provided further details about her husband’s financial situation and that of the other Indian athletes. Namita writes:

“Shiva is sponsored by the Olympic Gold Quest, and endorses a few brands in India. He has been managing to train and compete with all the money he raises personally. In simple words, he mainly represents the country at his own expense. FYI, the total required budget for a Season is approximately INR 50 Lakhs (~80K$), which Shiva has raised personally all these years. There are no facilities or infrastructure in India, which forces him to train abroad, something like the Jamaican team. It was 2 months prior to the 2010 Olympic Games and now for the 2014 Games that the Govt. offered support, nothing in the middle. Also, please note that they were part sanctions, which means they only gave him 5-10 percent of the total amount actually required by him. I write all this for your information, so that it is clear who and why you all are supporting the Indian athletes.”

Because Keshavan has covered his expenses, it is likely that the donations will go toward funding Indian alpine skiers Thakur and Iqba. However, the Dogecoin Foundation is still working out the details of how best to send the funds to the Indian athletes in need, says Doernberg. The funds may go directly to Winter Games Federation of India’s secretary general Roshan Lal Thakur – but only if that doesn’t result in a bureaucratic mess.

“Right now, we’re waiting to talk to Shiva to make totally sure that this secretary general is the right person to send the money to, and that that’s how it will best get to the athletes,” says Doernberg. “We don’t want it going into a bureaucratic process where it takes so long that it doesn’t get to the athletes in time.”

While India’s athletes may now have enough money to make it to Sochi, their challenges are far from over. Last year, a criminal investigation into the Indian Olympic Association forced the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to suspend its charter, meaning none of the country’s three athletes will be allowed to carry the Indian flag during the Opening Ceremonies, which will take place on Friday, February 7.

In the mean time, watch a video of Keshavan’s supremely ballsy training routine below:

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