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Feel-Good Friday: Community Sends Athlete’s Family to the Olympics

LOCOG_2012 Olympics

After qualifying at the Olympic Trials in April, Ellis Coleman was excited to not only compete for the U.S. wrestling team, but to also go on his first family vacation. However, his excitement was met with disappointment when he was informed that the U.S. Olympic Committee provides free tickets to the athlete’s family members, but not travel and lodging costs. Coleman, raised by single mother Yolanda Barral, knew that his family would never be able to cover the expense of airfare, and costly lodging in London, and therefore would not be able to see him compete for an Olympic medal, reports MSNBC.

Plus: Q&A With Olympic Mom Debbie Phelps

Having spent all of her savings to watch her son qualify in the Olympic trials, Barral was devastated she would not be able to follow him to the next stop, London. However, thanks to a very generous community, and former wrestling coach Mike Powell, her family will not only be able to take their first vacation, but watch their brother and son compete in the 2012 London Olympics.

Coleman’s high school wrestling coach Mike Powell paid the rent on a one bedroom London townhouse out of pocket after hearing that Barral was planning on missing this moment with her son. Powell had seen how hard she worked to move her family to a better neighborhood, and to help her son realize his dream of wrestling.

Plus: Surviving Heathrow During the Olympics

“My mom is on a big pedestal for me,’’ Coleman said. “She was always keeping me going in the right direction. She sacrificed so much,’’ he told MSNBC. With over $14,000 raised to date by Oak Park, IL community members, Coleman will be able to compete for the gold with his family nearby, cheering in the stands.

What was the last thing your child worked hard to accomplish? Were you able to share in the moment?