With all the recent news coverage on controversial issues surrounding the Rio 2016 Olympic games one could be forgiven for questioning what the point is in actually celebrating the Olympic games.
As understandable as that point of view is, the Olympic games are still a marvel, if only because of the ability of the games to assemble nations, even warring nations (Russia and Ukraine or Israel and Iran) under one banner. Beyond even that, the Olympic games are a test of so many laudable human qualities like perseverance, faith, discipline and simple human kindness.
The story of this Olympic dad is an example of one such quality, that of kindness, and it is one more encouragement to leave behind some of the cynicism, as much as it can be necessary when demanding change, and appreciate some of the positives.
Ellis Hill an Uber driver whose son, Darrell, a Penn State track and field star, had just made the U.S. Olympic team for shot put on his first try was carrying a passenger in July when he let it slip that he was an Olympic dad. He could, however, not afford the trip to Rio de Janerio to go and watch his son and had resigned himself to watching him on TV.
His passenger, Liz Willock, had been crushed that he would miss a chance to see his son compete as Olympian and decided to do something about it. Willock, who works for a company that transports medical patients to and from clinical trials, quickly realized she could use her professional connections and experience to fund and plan a trip to Rio for him.
First, she consulted with Ellis’ son, Darrell and then she launched a GoFundMe campaign to send the Olympic dad to Rio. The GoFundMe campaign raised $8,200, exceeding the set goal of $7,500.
One United Airlines pilot even donated airline miles to cover Ellis’ flight to Brazil. Darell later on tweeted his thanks to all the kind strangers who made the dream possible;
“Would like to personally thank everyone who donated to help my Dad get to Rio, we achieved our goal. God is Good. #Thankful”
This collective show of human kindness is one of the manifestations of the Olympic ideal of global harmony. The world has gathered together to play games and cheer each other on and even this lighthearted purpose has the ability to band us together if we let it.