The men’s hockey team at Augsburg College in Minneapolis, Minnesota, have raised $5,000 so an immigrant arena custodian could afford to fly home to Ethiopia for his mother’s funeral.
The team surprised custodian Minasie Theophilos, 54, who had left his family behind in Ethiopia 33-years ago to attend Augsburg College. Theophilos was never able to afford the expensive trip home.
The team decided to launch a fundraiser for thee university custodian after they learned he couldn’t afford to attend his mother’s funeral after she died nearly two months ago.
“A month and a half ago, my mother passed away, and each one of these kids signed a card, came one by one gave me a hug,” said Theophilos. “That’s a great team, very friendly, very disciplined, hard-working kids really, and I love them very much.”
The Auggies men’s hockey team didn’t stop there and decided to set up a fundraiser for Theophilos. In 24 hours, the GoFundMe fundraiser surpassed its original goal of $3,000.
The page stated, “Recently, his mother passed away, a very sad and emotional day at Augsburg. We found out he was unable to afford to see her and we want to provide him the opportunity to visit with his father and family. We feel that after all the time and energy of Minasie serving us, we would like to return the favor and unite him with his family!”
After practice Wednesday, March 15, the team presented Theophilos with a check for more than $5,000.
In less than 11 days, the GoFundMe page started for Theophilos raised more than $6,700, doubling the target goal of $3,000.
The Go Fund Me page describes Theophilos a ‘huge’ part of the college:
Minasie came to the US from Ethiopia 33 years ago, leaving behind his parents and 7 brothers and sisters. Minasie has been working at Augsburg College in custodial services for over 25 years. Minasie is a huge part of the college, making friends with everyone that he encounters. His custodial responsibilities mainly include the ice arena, where he has made an enormous impact on the men’s and women’s hockey teams. As alumni make their way back to campus, Minasie always remembers them, greeting them with a huge smile or a big hug! This past season he has joined the men’s hockey team’s weekly bible study, adding value with his insights and strong faith. He encourages the entire Augsburg staff with his bright smiles and his positive energy. I personally greet him with huge every morning! Beyond his faith, positive energy and daily smile, the Ice Arena is spotless. From cleaning the locker rooms and bathrooms to washing the glass before weekend games, the pride Minasie takes in his job is contagious.
The Go Fund Me will remain open to allow for Theophilos and his wife to have an extended stay in Ethiopia next winter.