Supporting an Olympian: 'Go Eric Go'

Brian and Fiona Neilson are overwhelmed with the support from students at Rutland Middle School for their son Eric, a skeleton racer who is in Sochi for his first Olympic games.

"It's unbelievable that this is all for him, it's great," says Fiona during a 'Go Eric Go' assembly at RMS held to cheer the Olympian on.

Fiona who's a CEA at the school had been sharing stories with students about her son, when teacher Chris Werry decided to take on the task in a school wide mentorship of collaborating ideas to support Neilson, a former RMS student.

"It started back in October and at first it was just, giving students a choice; 'what do you want to build awareness about Eric?"

Werry says, "So we had an assembly, we had a pep rally told them what we were doing then they went back to their classes for a few weeks and decided what their piece of the puzzle was going to be as far as building this awareness."

As the momentum started to build the City of Kelowna soon jumped on board, proclaiming February 6 'Eric Neilson Day'.  A day where students showed their support for the skeleton racer with 'Go Eric Go' t-shirts, a cheer and a fun improvised skeleton race.

Nielson's parents both attended the festivities and explained that their son has only been racing for the last six years and is fairly new to the sport.

"He is racing against people who've been doing this since they were nine years old and he's only been doing it for six years. So he has been doing really well for how long he has been in the sport and that is what we're proud of."

Nielson was surprised when he heard how the students at his former middle school were trying to support him, so in an attempt to give the kids their own surprise he sent a short video of himself in Russia to be played at the assembly.

"I don't think he really knew what we were doing," says Werry of the initiative. "I had sent him videos, I had emailed him, letting him know kind of the idea, but I think he was thinking it was going to be just a little bit of information, I don't think he envisioned how big this would actually go."

Nielson's parents will travel to Sochi next week and say despite recent concerns regarding safety and adequate hotel rooms at the Olympics they are not worried.

"We are renting an older hotel room, I think they are being renovated so I hope they are in  better shape (when we arrive)," laughs Neilson's father Brian.


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