United Surprises Chicago-Area Olympian's Family With Trip to Games - NBC Chicago

United Surprises Chicago-Area Olympian's Family With Trip to Games

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    United Surprises Chicago-Area Olympian's Family With Trip to Games

    The Tennell family thought the day's media attention was for the upcoming Olympics and Bradie’s 20th birthday. But, oh—was she in for a surprise. Katie Kim reports. (Published Wednesday, Jan. 31, 2018)

    The rink is as much home for Olympian Bradie Tennell's brothers as it is for her.

    "They would sit in the bleachers and do their homework, have a little dance party," she recalled Wednesday in an NBC 5 interview.

    The Tennell family thought the day's media attention was for the upcoming Olympics and Bradie’s 20th birthday.

    But, oh—was she in for a surprise.

    United Airlines got wind that Bradie’s family set up a GoFundMe page and were struggling to afford the trip to the Olympics. So the carrier came up with the best birthday gift of all.

    "We are here to send your entire family to South Korea to watch you compete," United's Mary Moser told the unwitting Olympian's family. "You are all going to the Olympic games together."

    It was a huge relief for Jean Tennell — a single mom of three and a nurse who works two jobs.

    This means so much to be able to go over and watch her," Jean said. "To even think that we were going to sit at home to watch her on TV!"

    Neither could 18-year-old Austin or 16-year-old Shane.

    "I saw how hard she would work every week, putting in the time," Shane said. "It’s been an amazing journey. Could you imagine not going to the Olympics to watch her? No I would have to go no matter what."

    "Its an unbelievable feeling," Austin said. "From her dream of making it, I just couldn’t imagine not being able to be there for her for that."

    Bradie and her mom leave for PyeongChang on Monday.

    Her brothers — both students at Cary Grove High School — will join them about a week after.

    They’ll be missing school, but their teachers know they’ve got a great excuse.

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