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Uber rider’s kind deed helps driver see son compete in Rio

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Retired bus driver Ellis Hill holds portraits of his son, Olympic shot putter and Penn State graduate Darrell Hill, on Thursday, Aug. 11, 2016, in his home in Darby, Pa. Philadelphia-area Uber driver Ellis Hill of Darby, Pa., was resigned to watching TV coverage of his son, shot putter Darrell Hill, competing in the Olympics on Thursday, Aug. 18, 2016, but passenger Liz Willock of Chicago raised more than $7,500 online in two days to send the retired bus driver to Brazil, his first trip outside the U.S. (AP Photo/Dake Kang)

Darrell Hill’s Olympic dream may have been cut short after placing 23rd in the qualification round of the shot put competition. But even though Hill didn’t advance to the final, his greatest fan was there to cheer him on, all because of a chance encounter with a stranger, reports CBS News correspondent Jamie Yuccas.

For Darrell’s father, Ellis Hill, watching his son in Rio was a gift worth more than Olympic gold. But until last month, he had no intention of going.

“I had already made a decision to, you know, stay home…and not really go out of my way to try to get the money,” Ellis Hill said.

That all changed when the retired bus driver picked up passenger Liz Willock in his Uber car at the Philadelphia airport. Hill told her that his son was competing in Rio, but he couldn’t afford to go.

“She shared some information about having her friend, you know — we were talking about sports and the Olympics — that she had a friend that was actually competing in the swimming,” Hill said. “And when I told her about my son…”

“You did her one better,” Yuccas said.

“Yeah,” Hill said.

Willock — who lives in Chicago — promised to help.

“When he told me he couldn’t go to the Olympics in Rio, I just wondered how I would feel as a parent of athletes,” Willock said.

So Willock set up a GoFundMe page. Within days, 152 people donated $8,200 to pay for Hill’s fight and travel expenses.

“It’s a great thing… to know somebody that I didn’t know not too long ago — look, I’m going to tell you, she’s really cool,” Hill said.

After traveling over 5,000 miles and nearly missing his connecting flight, Hill arrived in Rio.

“Can you believe you’re here?” Yuccas asked.

“No!” Hill said.

“You thought you were just going to sit on the couch, eat popcorn, watch it?” Yuccas asked.

“That’s it, that’s it!” Hill said.

Shortly after arriving, father and son connected, with Darrell tweeting: “Dad made it safely to Rio.”

“I said, ‘you ready?’ And I got to meet his coach as well, to hear him talk about (how) my son was great. And to hear him tell me that — you did well. It’s great, it’s great,” Hill said, tearing.

After Darrell failed to qualify, Olympic gold medalist Al Joyner offered some encouragement. As for Darrell himself, he said he hasn’t lost his confidence and his chin is held high.

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