Friends and supporters of a Canadian Olympian's family are rallying to help his parents attend the Winter Games in South Korea.
After 26-year-old figure skater Michael Marinaro qualified for the Olympics with his pairs partner Kirsten Moore-Towers, supporters in his hometown of Sarnia, Ont. were ecstatic for his family, said Jane Ryan.
The 58-year-old works with Marinaro's father Albert at a local Real Canadian Superstore. She said even customers would walk in and congratulate him.
Fundraiser set up to help family trip
"At the grocery store, everybody was just so happy for the family because we knew how hard [Michael]'s been working," she told HuffPost Canada. "Everybody was just really, really happy for them."
After the good news broke, Ryan said someone at the store mentioned how expensive the trip for the athlete's parents and his two brothers would be.
She said the family was going to Pyeongchang to watch Marinaro compete regardless — "you can't not go" — but the trip's cost would have made it a "sacrifice." So Ryan decided to help.
On Jan. 18, she set up a GoFundMe campaign to help out the Marinaros. So far, $10,000 has been raised toward the $25,000 goal — which Ryan said was based on the estimated cost of the trip for the family.
She said she's not sure if Albert knew about the fundraiser beforehand.
"When Albert saw me about two days later, he said they were overwhelmed and kind of embarrassed that this was happening because, you know, they didn't ask for it to happen. But very thankful," Ryan said.
"It's overwhelming enough, [their] son in the Olympics and then all of a sudden everybody was so kind. Customers were coming in to the store congratulating him all the time. I think he was a little surprised at how supportive people are."
Ryan said she hopes the family will use the extra money to ensure comfortable travel for Marinaro's mother, Bev, who is recovering after breaking her pelvis in a skating accident.
"She was immobilized. She was bedridden all over Christmas," Ryan said.
Ryan's fundraiser isn't the only campaign set up to help the Marinaros. The Point Edward Skating Club kicked off "Michael Marinaro Week" to raise funds for the family's upcoming trip.
Even Albert's co-workers at the store are pitching in. The store's manager has donated a television, which will be raffled off, Ryan said. All proceeds will go to the GoFundMe campaign.
"Those tickets sell themselves, because people know it's for Albert and his son."
CORRECTION: This story has been updated to say that the $25,000 goal of the GoFundMe campaign is based on the estimated cost of the family's trip to South Korea.
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