For one Chester County family, Pope Francis’ blessing has extended well past his time in Philadelphia.
The Keating family was on the tarmac when the pope landed Sept. 26 at Philadelphia International Airport, thanks to dad Charles Keating’s gig directing the Bishop Shanahan High School marching band.
Son Michael, 10, who has cerebral palsy, was in the front row. The pope was driving off in his motorcade, but stopped, stepping out to give Michael his blessing.
“It was the most inspirational feeling,” said Charles Keating.
A picture of Pope Francis cradling Michael’s face and kissing him on the forehead was picked up by the Associated Press, and Michael’s story was shared widely during the visit.
That gave the family an idea.
“My wife’s cousin and sister noticed how many hits and everything that was going one,” said Keating. “And they knew that we were looking for things to help Michael out at home … so they decided to set something up for us.”
They put up a page for Michael on Crowdrise, a crowd-funding site for charitable or philanthropic causes. Keating said their hopes were modest, maybe $5,000 for a down payment on a used, wheelchair accessible van.
Thanks to a series of media appearances — and an article in the Washington Post — donations far surpassed their expectations. On Tuesday, they sped past the $100,000 mark.
Keating said he and his wife have become “too overwhelmed” by the response to keep checking the site. Just before our interview, he said his wife texted him to go look at the total, which was creeping into six-figures.
Keating said the family didn’t have plans yet for all of the money. They hadn’t thought past getting a used van, which he said would run about $45,000. One possibility is putting it towards expensive house renovations they’d undertaken to make it fully accessible for Michael.
For now, “I’m just overwhelmed about the goodness of people in this world,” said Keating.