As It Happens

Uber driver will see his son compete in Rio Olympics, thanks to a passenger's kindness

Uber driver Ellis Hill couldn't afford to see his son, Darrell Hill, compete in this year's shot put event at the Rio Olympics. But then a passenger found out and made it her mission to raise the money.
Darrell Hill participates in the men's shot put final during the 2016 U.S. Olympic Track & Field Team Trials in July 2016. (ANDY LYONS/GETTY IMAGES)

Ellis Hill was proud that his son, Darrell Hill, had qualified for the Rio Olympics this year for shot put. And while the Uber driver would have loved to see his son compete for Team USA, he couldn't afford a ticket to go.

But this week, that changed — thanks to a passenger he recently picked up for a ride.

Darrell Hill will represent the United States at the Rio Olympics this summer in the shot put event. After a successful GoFundMe campaign, Hill's father, Ellis Hill, will be in the stands to see him compete. (PATRICK SMITH/GETTY IMAGES)

Last week, Hill was in Philadelphia driving Liz Willock to the airport. They started chatting and the conversation turned to the Rio Olympics.

"I told her about my son and she was ecstatic," he tells As It Happens guest host Rosemary Barton.

"At that point, she asked me if I was going. I said I couldn't afford it. She said, 'If I get you a ticket, would you go?' And my first response was, 'You don't have to do that.' Because I didn't really know her."

Ellis Hill, right, is an Uber driver who picked up Liz Willock, left, as a passenger in Philadelphia last week. After learning that Hill couldn't afford to go to Rio to see his son compete in the Olympics, Willock set up a GoFundMe page to the raise money. (GOFUNDME)

But Willock was serious. And she arranges travel and accommodations for a living, through her work at a concierge service.  

When Hill dropped her off, she asked him to call her first thing the next morning.

"I called her back . . . and she says, 'You know, we were trying to get you on frequent flyer miles and I'm not going to be able to do it that way — but I'm not giving up!'"

Willock set up a GoFundMe page. And it didn't take long for the money to start rolling in.

"When I went to bed that night, it was at $1,300. When I woke up, it was at $4,045," Hill recalls.

He went to church that day and, when he came back, the goal had been reached.

"I got a phone call from a TV station and they said, 'So Ellis, how do you feel?' And I said, 'What?' They said, 'You passed the goal!'"

Hill is amazed at the generosity of strangers — and Willock's idea to launch the campaign to begin with.

"[The money] didn't come from her pocket, it came from her know-how. And she knew I was basically the kind of person that wouldn't ask for anything. She has a good spirit," Hill says.

As for seeing his son, Darrell, compete in the Olympics for the first time, Hill can't wait.

Darrell Hill, a U.S. athlete in the shot put event, will compete in the Rio Olympics this month. (PATRICK SMITH/GETTY IMAGES)

"It's an awesome thing. It means everything. He lives with me and we're close. And I've watched him grow and I've watched him work. And I hope this means that my son will come home with a medal because, frankly, he's going to give it all he has," Hill says.

Since the fundraising campaign started, Hill says he's been overwhelmed by the amount of attention the story has received — and he loves it.

"It might be something for a book. I don't know. To think that Good Morning America is coming to my house in a couple hours? C'mon, man."