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Posted 24 Feb 2001   For week ended September 03, 2000
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News about Mormons, Mormonism,
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Sent on Mormon-News: 01Sep00

Summarized by Rosemary Pollock

LDS Wrestling Olympian's Family One of Many Struggling to Get to Sydney

AFTON, WYOMING -- After years of nurturing and encouraging young athletes, the families who sacrificed to make it all possible will find that there are others who are willing to sacrifice for them. Communities all across the nation have joined together in fund raising efforts to help support the many families of sons and daughters who will compete in the upcoming Sydney Australia Olympics.

LDS Olympic roman heavyweight wrestler Rulon Gardner, will attend the Sydney, Australia games along with six of his brothers and sisters and some of their husbands and wives. The family will stay at the mission home for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Australia. "The president of the mission told us he has three bedrooms we can occupy," said his father, Reed Gardner.

The family sold a "milk can dinner" of potatoes, corn, cabbage, sausage, ham and onions steamed in a 10-gallon milk can. They sold Rulon Gardner T-shirts that Rulon was happy to autograph. "We're a small community. There is not a lot of money floating around, but there is quite an effort to help the family," Reed said.

Judy and Joe Kolat of Rices Landing, Pa. will be there along with Olympic wrestler Cary Kolat and his wife, Erin. Judy Kolat, mother of Olympic wrestler Cary said, "Then it's, 'Wow, now we've got to get there!'" Parades, dinners, pictures, t-shirts and celebrations like Cary Kolat Day in Rices Landing have made it possible for the family to attend along with their Olympian.

The Rev. John Capel Sr. of Brooksville, Florida, along with his wife, will join the youngest of their 11 children in Sydney. Through the efforts of Jim Kimbrough, chairman of Sun Trust Bank, Nature Coast, and others, a total of $29,000 was raised and presented to the family. "They may take another family member or two, but that's their call," Kimbrough said. "This is their money to do whatever they want to with it."

Michael Johnson and Maurice Green dominated the 200 meter at the Olympic trials. Both Johnson and Green pulled up lame during the race. Capel, who prayed with his father before the final, won. Now his parents will make a 10-day trip to Australia too. "Without the help, we wouldn't be able to go. No way," said Capel.

The AT&T U.S. Olympic Family Program will provide a hospitality center in Sydney for athletes and their families. Travel packages are being offered through the program with a 10-30% discount. There are free buffets, big-screen TV's, and an Internet cafe with a calling center where each family gets free local calls and 20 free global time minutes.

Mimi Ambrosi of Overland Park, Kansas and mother of Olympic softball player Christie, said her friends raised about $1,000 for her trip. To finance her stay for the entire Olympic trip she decided to sell her ranch home. "There are 3.7 million girls that play softball and 15 made it and mine was one of them. So it's pretty special," she said. "I sold my house to go to Sydney," she said. "And I'd do it again tomorrow if I had to."


Generosity hits Olympic heights
USA Today 29Aug00 S2
By Gary Milhoces: USA TODAY
Donations send many moms, dads, spouses to Sydney


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