PONTE VEDRA -- As we head into the last week of the Olympics in Sochi, a Ponte Vedra company is proud to have played a part in the worldwide event.
The company helps support U.S. athletes by raising money and giving them a fashion accessory that could possibly save their life.
The product is called, survival straps.
It takes just a couple minutes to create a survival strap. They're made from military paracord, the same stuff that's connected to parachutes. Dozens of workers meticulously braid the cord into a bracelet, key fob or luggage tag.
Each Olympic athlete on the USA team received the bracelets and other accessories from the Ponte Vedra company. "Michael Phelps has sported our swag before," said Kurt Walchle, CEO of Survival Straps.
Walchle says he came up with the survival strap idea after he returned from a spearfishing trip one day and needed some string. He looked at his junky wristwatch and thought he could make a better wristband with paracord.
The company manufactures not just Olympic straps but accessories with hundreds of different designs and logos. Part of the proceeds goes to support Olympic athletes, the military and emergency responders. This is the second time Walchle's company has provided gear to Olympians, two years ago in China was the first. "We just thought to support team USA would be a fantastic thing to do. We called them up and said we got a great product, it's made in America and we would love to support the athletes. They agreed."
The reason they're called survival straps is that the bracelets can be unraveled and the paracord used for a variety of emergencies.
"There was a customer of ours running the Boston marathon and he was about 25 years away from when one of the bomb blasts went off. He didn't get hurt but he was able to rush in, unravel his survival bracelet and make a tourniquet for a woman's leg who was right there at the bombing and bleeding very badly."
They may have a double purpose, but US Olympians intend their survival straps to be used as fashion statement in Sochi.
So watch closely, the next time you see a US Olympian on the slopes or ice they could be sporting a product proudly made in Jacksonville. Survival strap products start at around $16.