FARGO-- About 5,000 wrestlers are traveling to Fargo to compete in the USA Wrestling Cadet and Junior Nationals at the Fargodome this week, and easily more than 100 are using GoFundMe to help fund the expenses of their trip.
Of the 70 GoFundMe accounts researched, there was a total of $102,885 as a target amount.
As of Friday afternoon, July 13, $55,586 had been raised between all 70 athletes.
Of those 70 accounts, only 13 made their target amount. One of those wrestlers was Freddy Collins from Chesapeake, Va.
Reaching the goal wasn’t easy, though.
Collins and his mother, Shirlene Lewis, moved to Chesapeake six years ago when she had to have a series of serious surgeries. Two of those surgeries will leave her out of a job for the next two months.
When Collins moved to Virginia, the 5-foot-9, 220-pound 18-year-old began his adventures in wrestling. In his time in middle school, he played defensive end. He had played football since he was 5, but wrestling would soon take priority.
During his physical in sixth grade, the wrestling coach approached him about joining the team.
“At first I didn’t think of it. My first mindset, was I didn’t really like it,” Collins said.
The indifference went away when his competitive nature kicked in.
“In my first match in middle school, I lost. It changed my mindset, so I worked. I started winning I just wanted to keep doing it,” Collins said.
Now, Collins is the fifth-ranked wrestler in the state of Virginia and placed second in the state tournament, qualifying him for the competition in Fargo.
The biggest problem was the money to get there, so Collins and his mom set up a GoFundMe account with a goal of $2,100.
She said he had done everything to deserve making it to Fargo.
“He doesn’t walk the streets, he’s good. He doesn’t ask for much. He’s at home every day unless he is at practice. He wants an education, so that’s all he asked for,” Lewis said.
The same determined nature seen in her son with wrestling showed up in Lewis: “I pushed my health issues aside, and said I am determined to get this for him.”
In a matter of two months, Lewis had sold candy through neighborhoods and stores, consistently shared the GoFundMe through social media posts and shared his story with church groups and local shops.
The effort was successful. The goal was reached.
Lewis put in a lot of hard work, but could only beam with pride for her son.
“For him to finally get the opportunity is just amazing. I hope they see what I see in him. Strength and determination,” Lewis said. “He’s so thankful, he keeps texting me, ‘momma thank you.’”
The love for his mother and gratitude for a rare opportunity is reciprocated by Collins in a mother-son bond that couldn’t be overlooked.
“I am just appreciative, I just worked hard and I had a momma to help me out,” Collins said. “I felt blessed, I get to go and represent Virginia and give it my all. I appreciate everybody here who has helped me get the donations.”
The data collected from Freddy’s GoFundMe and 69 other GoFundMe accounts come from all over the U.S. It was estimated that nearly 92,000 miles were traveled between them, making 1,314 miles the average trip for the traveling wrestler. Many of these athletes were from the South or the East Coast.