An Olympic Dream
This is truly an Olympic dream that you can be a part of, that we can all be a part of. It's tough, it's unbelievably sad, but it's in the blood and there is no stopping it.
And so it begins....
At 8 years old (2002) during a vacation to Lake Placid, Jon Lillis told his family, "Someday, I will do aerials in the Olympics."
But that almost DIDN'T happen.
On Sept 13th, 2007 at the age of 13, while his parents were out, he slipped on the wooden stairs and the hemp neckless he was wearing got caught on the banister and left him hanging by his neck, choking for air and unconscious.
His younger brother, Chris-9 years old- (also on the US Ski Team) found him unconscious and cut him down and in a panic called his dad who instructed him to get the ER doc who lived next door. The doctor treated his obstructed airway, so he could breathe and got him to the hospital.
Bernie (FHS '84) and Jamie, (Jon's parents) had no idea if he would live, but four days later Jon awoke from the coma and three weeks later, he walked out of the hospital. Three months later, Jon was doing aerial flips again.
10 years later......
It was announced, OFFICIALLY (last night) that Jon was picked to compete in the 2018 Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea representing TEAM USA. Fulfilling an 8-year old's dream. Wow.
The dream is the dream, but it's contagious
In 2017, many years later, Jon and his two younger brothers following in his footsteps are all on the US Ski Team. They compete to be the best they can be and they were on fire, but they don't compete against each other, instead, they compete as one-team within a team, for each other calling themselves, "Team Lillis."
then Tragedy strikes
Just a few months ago-October 2017, a US Aerial Ski team member died.
That would be Chris and Jon's little brother, Mikey. Mikey was a rising star in the sport. He died in his sleep at 17 years old on a training break at his home after watching a Yankees game with his dad. The family teammates and friends were devastated.
But the brothers swore....they would keep going for Mikey as a team.
So they hit it, and they hit it hard. Chris blew out his knee in China passing the baton back to Jon, and Jon took it and ran like hell. His little brother for sure would be proud.
And so just a few hours ago, Jon was picked to compete representing TEAM USA and that means Team Lillis- officially made it to the Olympics.
Getting to this part as you probably know, is financially exhausting for any family. It's a big expense to have three young men in the first place, but the expenses of training are overwhelming and everyone knows that Olympic athletes don't make a lot of scratch.
So if I had a wish, given what this family has endured financially and emotionally, and seeing the collective determination to get to this point, it would be to fund the trip for Bernie, Jamie, and Chris so they could focus on the moment and not have to worry about paying it off later.
I was told over the weekend it was going to cost about $5k per person or $15K for the trip.
Be a part of it.
So basically if we could all throw in whatever we could afford, I believe we could make it happen or at least help ease the stress. Whatever we can come up with will certainly help and certainly be appreciated.
Remember it's not about how much you donate, it's about participating at any level. We don't care if you donate $1, it all adds up. Just be counted!
What we would love to see is if you could help us by spreading the word, by posting this anywhere you can. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or where ever you post. It all adds up. The more exposure the more we can raise.
Thanks again for your consideration, and thanks again for being part of the story. Oh, and yes 100% of whatever is raised is going to the family.
- Gail Petri
- Greg Saccomanno
- Brian Shanahan
- Pattie Kernan