Homeless Mother Surprised with Tickets to See Daughters Compete in the Junior Olympics

Homeless Mother Surprised with Tickets to See Daughters Compete in the Junior Olympics
Good News

Three homeless girls from New York City – Tai Sheppard, Rainn Sheppard, and Brooke Sheppard – are heading to the Junior Olympics to compete for gold. And not only that, their mother was surprised with tickets to be in the stands to watch them.

Tonia Handy, who lives in a homeless shelter with her three daughters, thought she wasn’t going to be able to afford to make the trip. However, a philanthropist contacted Handy and offered her a plane ticket.

Handy surprised her daughter, Rainn, during a moment with the press. The 10-year-old was being interviewed by a local reporter when her mother crept up behind her and gave her a huge bear hug. Rainn was in shock. With her mother watching, she took home the gold in her 3000m race. [1]

The girls were able to get to the games themselves, partially from help from their training club and partially from their GoFundMe account. However, there wasn’t enough left over for their mother to join them, leaving the trio to go off in search of gold by themselves in Texas.

The three girls, ages 11, 10, and 8, began training in track and field in January 2015. They have since qualified to compete in races and events for the sport and will go head-to-head with hundreds of other amateur athletes in Humble, Texas.

What’s even more impressive is that the youngest, Brooke, qualified to compete in the high jump. Her training team, Jeuness Track Club in Brooklyn, doesn’t even have the equipment needed to practice for the event, so most of Brooke’s jumps are done for the first time while competing.

The man who made it all possible was Ken Smaltz, Jr. who has never even met the family before. He owns a rare coin shop and helps run an Alzheimer’s foundation, though he didn’t actually want his donation to be made public. He had read about the girls’ amazing talents and their mother’s situation in the paper and decided he wanted to help them out. [2]

“It just feels nice to help someone,” Smaltz said of his incredible gesture.

Meanwhile, the girls are in sweet disbelief that their mother was able to join them to cheer them on.


[1] Huffington Post

[2] The Telegraph