Homeless St. Paul woman has ‘heart full of hope’ for son at Olympics

[Update 707 pm] Florence got her visa and enough money was donated to allow her to fly to Rio.

The Pioneer Press’ Frederick Melo today tells the amazing story of Florence Matadi, the mother of Olympic runner Emmanuel Matadi who is competing for Liberia in the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio (See MPR reporter Emma Sapong’s story on Emmanuel Matadi).

You won’t see her in the audience, nor mentioned by the announcers at the Games.

She’s mostly lived out of her car in St. Paul.

“I don’t know how to beg,” Florence Matadi told Melo yesterday while she stood outside of her former home on Arkwright Street, which was destroyed by fire.

She’s too embarrassed to say where she sleeps most nights, she tells the Pioneer Press.

“I cry at night all the time. I’m not in a position to be able to see him. I promised him I’d be there,” she said of her son, who decided to run for Liberia because it has never won an Olympic medal. “I just want to go see him. When he was little, at every track meet, I was there recording everything, screaming. … The only thing I want from God right now is to give me wings to fly.”

We suspect the Internet is about to do that thing the Internet does so well.

Oh, she also has a degree from St. Catherine in social work, but has yet to find a job in the field.

Take care of that, too, Internet.

[Update 2:15 p.m.] – A GoFundMe campaign has been created.

Related: Olympics display a way most of us will never be (Duluth News Tribune)