When he was a three years old, he learned to ski. He loved it. Until he was a teenager, he would compete locally and throughout the country with his junior team.
In 1998, a civil war erupted over the independence of the Kosovo region in the former Yugoslavia. At 17 years old, Besnik had to let go of cherished pastimes and the innocence of his youth like many of his peers for survival.
He and his family, like many Kosovars, had to escape as refugees to find safety and embark on a new life.
My Nik is the strongest man I know. He is a dedicated and hardworking husband and fatherof three. He is very close to reaching a dream that so many of us have as children around the world: Competing the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea.
Six months ago, he began skiing again. His talents as an athlete in this discipline returned as if they had never left and he re-claimed his passion. Nik began to compete in local Nastar competitions and kept signing up for more races. As he started meeting personal goals and his standing in the sport rose, it became evident that he had a shot. As a family we discussed it and I let him know that I support him all the way. I want him to go after the dreams he has always had. I never want him to wonder, "what if?"
Now that Kosovo is an independent nation with an Olympic team, Besnik (having dual citizenship with the USA and Kosovo) saw it fit that he attempt to compete for the country he loves so much that he had to leave. He considers the opportunity to be an honor of the highest order. I am Albanian myself, and know the importance of honoring our heritage and I agree with him.
On July 31st, Besnik was featured in an article and video produced by the Wall Street Journal that told his story. They proifiled him and showed how he trains in Brooklyn where he works as an apartment building Superintendent.
When the article was published, Besnik was in South Africa participating in an eligibility race. Nik is currently in South America where he is competing to get more FIS eligibility points to make this important lifelong dream a reality.
As you can imagine, this has been a family effort. On this trip alone for airfare, lodging and equipment, we have spent upwards of $17,000. With all of the prequalifying races Besnik has competed in thus far in places as far as Norway, Oregon, New Hampshire, Maine, Vermont, Pennsylvania, Connecticut andNew Jersey, we have spent over $35,000.
While I am creating this page reluctantly, the truth is, I know that there are a lot more expenses to come. If Besnik completes his FIS points and qualifies in South America, he will need to hire a trainer and purchase more equipment when he returns home to help him get ready for PyeongChang. If he doesn't, he will keep competing and going after FIS eligibility races until he meets the requirement. He won't give up and I won't let him. However, this means more trips, more flights and more hotels and miscellaneous expenses.
I know that $75,000 is a great deal of money, but I assure you every dime is going into the associated expenses for Besnik's Olympic dreams. We have put all of ourselves into this together. Since the article was published, so many of you incredibly kind people have reached out to ask how they can contribute and help us do this.
We are so grateful and feel so blessed to have such a loving and compassionate community of people surrounding us. It means the world to us and our three children, Leon (8) Lea (5) and Lorik(2).
Any contribution you can make is so deeply appreciated. We know that Nik has the potential, the drive and the heart to make it to South Korea in February.
My husband is a humble man who values the heart in people and he is so touched by all of the well wishes and support he has received in these last few days from people all over. For more information about Nik, this is his official website: www.besniksokoli.com
- Sam CarLegion
- Caroline Bell
- Richard Bonsall
- Kristina Mosco
- Bojana Rishi
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