Homeless Mom Is Headed to Rio After Raising Money to See Son Compete in the Olympics
A homeless Minnesota mother who dreamed of seeing her son compete at the Olympics is officially off to Rio.
Florence Matadi, mother of Olympic sprinter Emmanuel Matadi, found support from her church who started a GoFundMe campaign to cover travel expenses to Rio de Janeiro to see her son compete in the 100-meter and 200-meter dash, the Twin Cities Pioneer Press reports.
A GoFundMe rep verified the campaign – now up to more than $5,000 – and told PEOPLE that Matadi was on her way to the Games on Saturday, just in time for elimination trials.
“She’ll be in Rio till the end of the Games with her son supporting him,” the rep tells PEOPLE. “Any additional funds are going to be used to help her get back on her feet.”
Matadi, 58, has been homeless since losing her St. Paul residence to a fire in 2013, the Pioneer Press reports.
The former house cleaner would not tell the publication where she sleeps most nights.
“When you’re homeless, you don’t want to stay in one place for long,” she said.
Emmanuel, who is a native of Liberia, carried the Liberian flag during the Olympic opening ceremonies, and gushed about the privilege in an Instagram post.
“LIBERIA was honor to hold our flag at the Olympic opening ceremony #BeWhoYouWannaBe,” he wrote.
Emmanuel ran a 10.31 in round one of the men’s 100-meter, failing to place.
“WOW …. Honestly I don’t know what just happened and don’t know what to say but WOW .. Ran 10.3.. Can’t lie it hurts,” he wrote in a social media post on Saturday. “Just not acceptable … Just not .. But everything has a reason behind it … On to the next race … Much love #BeWhoYouWannaBe.”
Still, the athlete has more races to run. And his mother will be there cheering him on in the stands.
• Reporting by MARIA MERCEDES LARA