Despite fears of terrorists and costly travel expenses, Steven and Meredith Kelly, of West Islip, say they couldn’t imagine not being on the sidelines when their son, Aidan, 19, competes next month in the luge event at the Olympics in Sochi, Russia.
Meredith Kelly, 47, said the threats concern her, but added, “We’re going to live our lives and not let anyone stop us.”
A bigger concern for the Kellys is the $25,000 it will cost for them and their three other children -- Morgan, 20, Olivia, 17, and Colton, 15 -- to make the trip to Russia. To help with expenses, the family held a fundraiser Sunday at Farrell’s of Brooklyn in West Islip.
In the first hour, more than 100 people filled the pub to purchase raffle tickets, bracelets and T-shirts bearing the phrase “Team Kelly.” Local business donated raffle prizes, a local band called Beer Nutz provided free entertainment, and Farrell’s hosted at no cost to the family.
Meredith Kelly said the fundraiser brought in about $10,000. She’s continuing to sell T-shirts through the Team KELLY Facebook group she has set up.
“It’s amazing the outpouring of support he has,” Meredith Kelly said of her son, who left home and West Islip High School when he was 15 to live and train in Lake Placid with the U.S. National Junior Luge Development team.
Still, the West Islip community considers him one of their own.
“This kind of unites the community even more,” said Peter Murray, the manager at Farrell’s and a West Islip High School lacrosse coach. “I’m sure we’ll probably have it on every TV here.”
Aidan Kelly will compete on Feb. 8 and 9 in the men’s single luge events.
Speaking via Skype from Austria Sunday, Aidan Kelly said he is nervous and excited as the games approach, and grateful for all the support he has received back home.
“Until this year, I was unknown. People from West Islip just knew I disappeared for some weird sport,” he said. “It’s amazing to see how many people are following me.”
His mom will be following every step of the way, even if she can’t stand to watch.
“Anytime he races, I don’t watch, I just listen,” she said. “I know he wants to win, but I just want him to come down and cross the finish. That’s all I care about it.”