Nightly News   |  February 04, 2014

Donations Fund Speed Skater’s Trip to Sochi

An American family was able to live out their Olympic dream thanks to the generosity of their community.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> finally here tonight, the story of an american olympic team family, their daughter won a place on the u.s. speed skating team, but then there was the next challenge, getting her family to sochi , so they could watch her compete. that's when something really remarkable happened, it's not like they live in grover's corners, they'd like to think that small town spirit is very much alive. we get the story tonight from nbc's harry smith .

>> reporter: most every saturday you'll find raina smith cutting hair at bob's barber shop in melvindale michigan. if you hang around a little, the conversation inevitably turns to her daughter jessica .

>> she'll bring home at least a gold, i'm sure.

>> reporter: jessica , a short track speed skater is competing in sochi . mom, dad and brother want to go too. the price, listen to this --

>> probably about $40,000.

>> thank you.

>> reporter: customers and towns townsfolk have been coming through with cash and encouragement. a spaghetti dinner, a raffle. it seems like everyone is pulling for jessica and her family.

>> these are her very first pair of roller skates. she was one year old.

>> reporter: not long after jessica started walking, she started skating. she even played hockey on the boys team. an alternate in vancouver four years ago, she swept her three events at the u.s. trials in january. come hell or high water , raina her husband rick, a truck driver and their son travis were determined to see jessica race in the olympics. while the community did pitch in, they were coming up short.

>> we're going to go regardless of what we had to do to do it. take loans out, whatever, we were going to go.

>> reporter: but that won't be necessary. without their knowledge, friends of the smiths started spreading the word on facebook, and within days, money started pouring in, some from complete strangers.

>> because this person's got 800 facebook friends and this person that they talked to has 500 of their own.

>> reporter: enough friends with enough money to put them over the top .

>> it tells me there's a lot of good people still left.

>> oh, yeah. what did you do today?

>> trained twice.

>> instead of face time on a smart phone . they'll be in sochi rink side.

>> just to know that my family's going to be a part of this, and it's been a long road.

>> reporter: olympic dreams are not dreamt alone. maybe the more a dream is shared the better chance of coming true. harry smith , melvindale michigan.