Iain O'Brien, the former New Zealand fast bowler, is set to return to his family after his fund-raising initiative brought him the money he was looking for, even exceeding his expectations.
O'Brien, who lives with his wife and two daughters near Matlock in England, was visiting his parents in New Zealand when the COVID-19 (novel coronavirus) pandemic struck. While he had booked three flights home - some of them eye-wateringly expensive - the airlines subsequently cancelled. The delay in refunding the cost of such bookings had eaten deep into O'Brien's resources.
With infection control also limiting his options for work - he had hoped to raise the funds by picking fruit or as a delivery driver - he turned to the funding page as a possible solution. With flights now scarce, he was aiming for one costing £2,250 and leaving New Zealand on April 5. After the fund-raising initiative succeeded, O'Brien couldn't hold back the tears.
Here's me, to you. You bunch of bloody amazing people!— Iain O'Brien (@iainobrien) March 26, 2020
Not often I wake up and cry straight away!https://t.co/kefGrr1659
"This is quite difficult because I'm not used to these kind of things," O'Brien said on his YouTube channel. "But I woke up this morning, maybe for the third or fourth time in my life I cried before I got out of bed… I thank you all so much for your contributions. It's completely oxymoron, but I'm speechless and I really don't know what to say. I'm just so grateful…thank you and my wife thanks you."
His desperation to return home had been exacerbated by concern for his family's health. His wife suffers from a lung condition which places her in the category of people especially vulnerable to COVID-19. "This virus could kill her," he has written on his PayPal page. "I need to get back ASAP to help her out and keep her safe."
O'Brien knows he will need to undergo a period of isolation when he arrives home - he is intending to stay in a camper van outside his home - but hopes he will then be able to take care of his family's need for shopping and save his wife any unnecessary exposure. His wife is British and he has residency status.
He offered, where practical, to repay donors by offering coaching tips or some of his experiences in the game. "If anyone would love a 20 min Skype/vid call," he wrote, "one on one, talk about all things cricket, politics, sausages, mental health, Sachin, etc... If you'd like that & can spare a couple of $£, message me and we can work out a time.
"Please, only if you can, and allow me to give you something in return."
5.05am GMT: The story was updated after O'Brien's initiative succeeded