Pols push for plates honoring Jamaican bobsledders

Devon Harris, a founding member of the Jamaican bobsled team.
Facebook photo

Democrats and Republicans seem to be unable to agree on most policy issues.

However, in the New York State Legislature the two parties seem to be less contentious in reaching a recent agreement giving the Division of Motor of Vehicles (DMV) approval to issue license plates honoring the history-making Jamaica bobsled team.

On June 14, when Democrats legislators rubber-stamped a measure first approved by their GOP counterparts, the measure would allow the Department of Motor Vehicles to issue license plates honoring the team, which made its Olympic debut at the 1988 Calgary Winter Games.

Of all the teams competing that year, the “Cool Runnings” sledders upstaged veteran ice-worthy champions, nabbing acclaim and media attention for their enduring dedication and perseverance to qualifying despite the long odds of success representing a tropical country.

The media coverage was overwhelming throughout the Games, and culminated with a comedic movie titled called “Cool Runnings,” based on the team’s journey from the snowless Caribbean island to international acclaim in wintry western Canada.

Devon Harris one of the founding members of the most improbable national teams to qualify for the Winter Olympics now heads a foundation that honors the trailblazing Jamaican men.

Harris, an author and inspirational speaker, penned a children’s book titled “Yes I Can” in 2008 and later in 2010 published “Keep On Pushing,” a semi-autobiographical book that details his real-life experiences.

According to the book, he was raised in the Waterhouse section of Kingston, Jamaica, an area renowned for rebellious youth gangs and related unsavory violent crimes. Despite those hazards Harris joined and served as an officer in the Jamaica Defence Force. He also graduated from the prestigious Royal Military Academy Sandhurst in England.

How he managed to soar to international attention is the fact he had always yearned to be an athlete. Nicknamed Pele, after the famous Brazilian soccer player, he was an avid player and from his vantage well-suited to perform on a grand stage either on a field or on track.

His passion was track and field and his dream was to represent Jamaica in the 1984 summer Olympics in the 800m and 1500m events.

In hindsight, it probably was not an impossible one.

During his tenure in the JDF as a lieutenant in the Second Battalion, he read in a weekly army publication called “Force Orders” that the idea of a bobsled team was being tested.

The September 1987 text called for those interested to “undergo rigorous and dangerous training” in order to represent Jamaica in the Winter Olympics.

Harris initially thought the idea was ridiculous, adding to that he was constantly told it was an impossible feat. However, he was eventually convinced to participate by his superior officer, Lt. Col. Alan Douglas.

At the team selections, Harris ended up with the fastest push time. Perhaps that push motivated him to keep on pushing and eventually he found a way to make it possible.

Catch You On The Inside!

From his own testimony he stated that he “started off as a barefoot boy trying to win a track race and became a member of his country’s first Olympic bobsled team.”

Harris has become a highly sought after international motivational keynote speaker who frequently shares his philosophy to “Keep on pushing and never stop dreaming” with Fortune 100 companies across many industries.

He is also the founder and CEO of the Keep On Pushing Foundation, a New York based 501(c) 3 charity focused on helping children in disadvantaged communities receive a quality education. He has devoted time to visiting the troops in the Persian Gulf and around the United States and more recently assumed responsibility for developing the next generation of Jamaican bobsledders.

Earlier this year Harris traveled to the site of the 2018 Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea, to receive the Olympians for Life certificate. The honor is bestowed by the World Olympians Association (WOA) in recognition of his contributions to the society.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo will have to finalize the plan in order for the DMV to be able to execute the bi-partisan measure.

Reportedly, the plate’s design would then be developed and approved by the DMV commissioner.

Drivers wanting to display the “Cool Runnings” tags will have to pay an extra $25 fee along with their registration fee.

The proceeds from those extra fees will be directly transferred to the New York-based Jamaican Bobsled Foundation.

Catch You On The Inside!

More from Around NYC