And a Happy Friday to all of you fellow sweltering people if you’re on the East Coast like me; triple digit temperatures are always fun, no?
I’m hoping to cool down at a water park this weekend, I highly suggest you do the same if you have the chance.
We start an Olympics-heavy Good News Friday post with an awesome and random encounter between an Uber driver and a customer. (Awesome Olympics night Thursday night: Simone Biles, just amazing. Aly Raisman, pretty awesome, too. And Michael Phelps just swimming AWAY from everyone in the 200 IM, that dude just isn’t human!)
Sorry, back to the Uber driver story. A woman named Liz Willock was leaving the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia a few weeks ago and grabbed an Uber driven by a man named Ellis Hill.
They got to talking and it turned out Hill had a son going to the Olympics in Rio named Darrell Hill, a Team USA shot-putter.
You must be so excited for him, are you going to Brazil? Willock asked. Nope, Ellis replied. Too expensive.
For 95 percent of us, that would’ve been it. But Willock went the extra mile, times 10.
“It just made me sad because any loving parent would want to see their child compete in the Olympics,” she said last week in a great Washington Post story.
Willock started a GoFundMe page to raise money for Ellis to go to the Olympics to watch his son. Darrell Hill shared the page on social media, and within 48 hours they’d exceeded the $7,500 goal for flights, hotels, meals and other expenses.
So now when Darrell Hill competes in the shotput next week, his proud Papa will be there to watch him live.
Awesome. I love this part of the story, at the end:
“Hill had only been an Uber driver for about four weeks when he met Willlock. And meeting her as reaffirmed what he’s always believed to be true about people.”
“People are people, so until they do something different, you expect the best out of people,” he said. “It’s an awesome thing.”
**Next up today, my fantastic friend Jeff Pearlman took his 9-year-old football-crazed son to a Los Angeles Rams practice the other day. The Rams, as you probably know, just moved back to California from St. Louis, where they’d been since 1995, when they left L.A.
You would think that the Rams would go out of their way to cultivate new fans since they’ve been gone for so long. Happily, they are.
Jeff wrote beautifully about a magical day he and his son had at Rams practice. Pro athletes’ small gestures can go so far, and how great they treated children on this day is terrific.
**Finally today, I love the story of American fencer Ibtihaj Muhammad, the first Muslim-American Olympian to compete while wearing a hijab.
“I feel like my hijab is liberating,” Muhammad says. “It’s a part of who I am, and I believe that it allows people to see me for my voice, and now necessarily how I look.
“I hope that it’ll change a lot of the misconceptions that people have about Muslim women specifically.”
The above video shows Muhammad speaking truthfully about the stereotypes that confront her every day, including a scary incident where a stranger followed her because she “looked suspicious.”
Ibtihaj Muhammad didn’t medal in fencing; she was eliminated in the second round earlier this week.
But as this Michael Rosenberg column on SI.com pointed out, she won just by competing.