<< back

Cool Runnings' Devon Harris, Jamaican Bobsled Team Star, Throws Support to Limos Kids

Devon Harris Story
Devon Harris has spent the majority of his life as the underdog.

Born in 1964 in a highly volatile area of Kingston, Jamaica, Harris spent his youth dreaming of opportunities.  He also spent a good portion of it focusing on sports and education.

“I had big dreams and great determination,” says Harris. ‘My personal philosophy has never been to allow anyone or anything to define the limits of your success.”

Harris has done just that throughout his life. He was never limited in educational opportunities. He graduated high school and eventually the Royal Military Academy of Sandhurst. He then went on to achieve one of the most unbelievable feats by making it to the world’s largest and most prestigious sporting event in the unlikeliest of sports.

Known as a country with beautiful sandy beaches and a tropical climate that is advertised on travel brochures across the world, Jamaica has definitely never been thought of as a land of opportunity in winter sports. But, it was Harris who became one of five men who turned the tropical country into a love affair with bobsledding.

Yes, bobsledding. You know, the event where five people sprint to the start and fly around a dangerous mound of ice at high rates of speed. That was not the usual sport that he was accustomed to after he spent his childhood on a sandy island playing soccer and participating in track and field.

“Sports is such a great metaphor for life,” he says with a smile. “Discipline, commitment, focus, positive attitude and teamwork are some of the lessons and attributes that allows for success in sports.”

In 1988, Harris made the leap, or shall I say sprint, to the finish as the world watched in amazement as the team from the tiny Caribbean island captivated the attention of everyone at the 1988 Winter Olympics in Calgary.

“It was a phenomenal experience,” Harris recalls fondly. “It was the accomplishment of a lifelong dream, not only to represent Jamaica, but to also compete in the Olympics.”

Along with his teammates he did so again at the 1992 Winter Olympics in Albertville, France before leading a normal life. Well, sort of.

Today, Harris brings his message of achievement, desire and commitment as a motivational speaker for numerous Fortune 500 companies. And perhaps most important, the father of four children, including a two-year old daughter, he has continued with an emphasis on education and children’s programs.

The 43-year old wonder kid started the Keep On Pushing Foundation just a few years ago in an effort to help underprivileged children in disadvantaged communities around the world. The program is designed to help children explore their full potential, much like the life experiences that he has.

“I try to convey to the children that their parents, teachers and classmates are all teammates that are there to help them succeed in the classroom, and that the same level of discipline that they use on the sports field is needed for success in the classroom.”

With a message of not just physical, but mental strength, Harris has helped nourish the minds and bodies of children throughout the world. Not just with the Keep On Pushing Foundation, but also with a breakfast program and computer labs. Now he is joining another winning team, the South Carolina-based Limos For Learning™ reading motivational program.

“We are thrilled and excited to have a person of Devon’s caliber join our team,” said Limos For Learning™ Founder and President Betsy Ross. “Devon is a winner on and off the field of competition. He is a living example of what our program aspires to accomplish through our reading program as we encourage children to believe in themselves, have goals, and work hard to achieve them. ”

Limos For Learning has touched the lives of many South Carolina children and is among the most requested education programs throughout the country.

“We believe that they (children) need a good education to succeed in life,” Harris said. “Hope is the lifeblood of possibilities and education gives them the hope and ability to reach their greatest potential. Limos For Learning™ understands that need and has already been a very successful program that has helped touched so many children and so many lives.”

“We were an underdog when we first began five years ago,” Ross said. “We started out with a big dream, zero funding, and one limousine ride for 12 kids to McDonald’s for our first Literacy Celebration Day. Now we use a fleet of limos, volunteers who share our vision, and we are able to reward thousands of children who are on the road to reading excellence. We afford them educational opportunities they never thought possible. Devon understands what it is to be the underdog and we do too.”

“In 1987 we were the underdog,” Harris says of the 1988 Winter Olympics. “I think the Jamaican team will be a underdog for a long time. Many believed that you couldn’t have a successful team from Jamaica and that we were just a media stunt. All of that motivated us to press forward.”

Naturally, Harris’ motivation is a perfect fit with Limos For Learning™, a 501(c)3 non-profit organization that teaches, inspires and motivates children to learn the importance of reading and education.

“We strive to help children of all ages learn the life-long importance of reading and education,” Ross said. “This is just a match made in heaven. Devon brings his experiences to join forces with our program and give children the hope, encouragement and motivation to increase their knowledge and lead better lives. This helps impact communities throughout the country and the world.”

With those goals in mind, these underdogs hope to provide a winning combination for everyone.

“We are winners,” Ross says about Limos For Learning™ and Harris. “This is a winning combination without a doubt. We are shooting for the gold medal, nothing less.”

“I feel like I am living on purpose,” Harris says. “This is what I was meant to do.”