05/18/2012 06:33 EDT | Updated 07/18/2012 05:12 EDT

Canada's beach volleyball players have some breathing room thanks to fundraiser

TORONTO - Canada's beach volleyball players can continue their London Olympic quest without being completely swallowed up by debt.

The players have been funding their own travel to World Tour events that count toward Olympic qualifying. They also haven't received their carding money from the federal government for six months because of an arbitration between Volleyball Canada and a national team player.

But an emergency fundraising effort this week spearheaded by Canadian Athletes Now (CAN Fund) has raised more than $44,000 in the span of a few days for the cash-strapped athletes' plight.

"To hear these volleyball players say they've funded their entire Olympic journey and haven't their carding for six months. . . It's not right, they get so little anyways," said Jane Roos, founder of CAN Fund, an independent athletic fundraising body.

Roos had set a goal of $60,000 by Friday night. Toronto investment management company Sprott Asset Management kicked in $16,000 earlier in the day.

Marie-Andree Lessard of Ville LaSalle, Que., tweeted:

"Huge! WOW! Merci Sprott!! @CANFUND Sprott Asset Management believes AND donates $16K today to support our beach volleyball athletes. #yes"

Toronto's Heather Bansley and Liz Maloney, who've maxed out their credit cards in their Olympic quest, are currently No. 19 on the Tour and need a top-16 ranking to earn a London berth. Martin Reader of Comox, B.C., and Josh Binstock of Toronto are hoping to play in London.

CAN Fund already had 150 Canadian Olympic athletes its providing funding for, but decided to take up the volleyball players case because it was "such an unbelievable, ridiculous situation," Roos said.