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Sunday, July 22, 2012

'Minnesota nice' helps keep Olympic dream alive for Somali athletes

The Summer Olympics start in one week and Minnesota will be well represented both directly and indirectly thanks to a story that is a good example of "Minnesota nice" to the rescue.

Somali Olympians Muhamed Hassan Muhamed and Zamzam Farah live and train in one of the world's most dangerous cities, Mogadishu.

When the pair arrived in London, it was an exciting moment, a dream come true for them and their country, but there was just one problem; their luggage didn't arrive with them.

"When we were on the phone with their manager, we asked, 'Did they need new gear?' and they said, 'Well, it's funny you ask because on their way to London they lost their luggage,'" said Jenna Myrland, who works for the American Refugee Committee, based out of Minnesota.

She spends her time these days working with the Somali Olympic team of two.

She realized the lost luggage was no small problem for athletes from such an impoverished country. So, she put Minnesota nice to the test and called the local running store, the Running Room.

"My response was I would absolutely love to (help), but unfortunately I don't get to make those decisions, so I cleared it with higher ups at the Running Room and they said, 'Go for it,'" said Scott Harder, of the Running Room.

Go for it meant brand new running gear, shoes, apparel and duffel bags for Hassan and Farah. It turned out to be the works for a pair of Olympians in need.

The pair train in an area that is basically a dirt road, which makes their Olympic achievements even more special and the generosity that it took for them to continue their dream an even bigger honor.

"They are national heroes for Somalia, so they're absolutely stars in their country," Myrland said. "We just want to be able to recognize that everywhere, to be able to share that and show something coming out of Somalia. It's a great story."

For complete coverage of the Olympics which start on Friday, July 27, go to and follow us on twitter - @kare11olympics.

Source:  KARE.

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