A Pennsylvania Uber driver will be going to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, to watch his son compete in the Olympic Games thanks to the kindness and determination of a passenger.
Liz Willock rode with Uber driver Ellis Hill for one hour in Philadelphia. They discussed many things, including the Olympic Games, and Hill explained that his son, Darrell Hill, would be representing the United States in the Track & Field Shot Put competition.
"When I told her about my son she was really amazed, but when she asked me if I was going over there to watch him, I said I really couldn't afford it," Hill, a retired bus driver, told People.
Willock was brokenhearted to hear that Hill would not be able to see his son compete.
"It was devastating to hear that," Willock said. "Here's this wonderful man who has a close relationship with his son and I know any parent would want to see their son or daughter compete at the Olympics, but it was very understandable how that could be out of reach."
Willock, a sales leader at a concierge service that arranges travel for people seeking clinical trials, decided to use her contacts and resources to get Hill to the Olympics.
"She asked me, 'If I could get you a ticket would you go?'" Hill said. "And I said, 'Oh my goodness I don't even know you!' She said, 'No. I believe you and I were fated to meet and I'm going to try to make this happen.’”
Willock started a GoFundMe campaign for Hill and in just two days was successful in reaching its $7,500 goal, and even surpassed it by more than $500.
Philadelphia attorney Robert Mongeluzzi was the largest contributor, donating $1,545 to help the fund reach its goal.
"I've been an athlete my whole life, and you know, I guess it just touched me," Mongeluzzi told NBC10. "I know he's going to be so proud, and to help support our American team by helping support a father and a parent who otherwise wouldn't have been able to watch their son in a once in a lifetime experience, it's great for me, and I'm just happy to do it."
Darrell took to Twitter to express his gratitude towards Mongeluzzi.
“Yo…Somebody just donated $1,545 to my go fund me. I was almost moved to tears. God is so good,” he tweeted.
Hill is very grateful for all of the support people have shown him.
"It's going to mean a whole lot to me," he told NBC 10 about getting to see his son compete. "Many times, I really wanted to be with him on other meets that he was at, you know, and had to apologize for one reason or another, and this is actually what he's been working toward for a long time. It's going to be extremely awesome for me to experience this."
Willock’s company will be arranging all of Hill’s ground transportation and logistics to get him from Pennsylvania to his hotel in Rio de Janeiro.
"Outside of special things that have happened in my family, I think it’ll be one of the most important things I’ve ever done in my life," Willock said of helping Hill.
Uber is even offering help to Hill, by giving him credit for free rides and a special gift.
"All of us at Uber Philadelphia are rooting for Ellis’ son down in Rio, and to make sure his dad has an easy time getting around while he’s in Brazil, we’re providing $1,000 in Uber credits, as well as a $250 gift certificate to one of the city’s top restaurants," Uber Pennsylvania General Manager Jon Feldman said.
"Every single Uber ride happens because folks like Ellis are on the road serving their local community and making it easier for their neighbors to move from point from A to B," Feldman said. "It’s inspiring to see that community rally around such a worthy cause."
Before Hill can head off to Brazil he has to take care of one very important matter: obtaining a passport.
“I never had a passport before, so I'm going to be getting that done tomorrow or the next day so I can get a ticket," he said. "I'm extremely grateful."
“There has been so much sadness and violence in the news lately and this really restored my faith in humanity," Willock told People. “We had over 150 people contribute and I think Ellis knew maybe 10 of them. The rest were strangers.”