HIGHLAND PARK, Ill. (CBS) — After wowing crowds at the U.S. National Figure Skating Championships a week ago, Highland Park native Jason Brown is a surprise addition to Team USA for the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi.
As CBS 2’s Megan Mawicke explains, his family is heading to Russia with love.READ MORE: Annette Nance-Holt Confirmed As Chicago's First Black Female Fire Commissioner
“We’ve just not quite realized it yet. Our son is going to the Olympics,” says Jason Brown’s mother Marla.
“We cry a lot. There’s a lot of crying going on. Someone walks up to you and says, ‘I heard …’ and I just start crying,” adds proud dad Steve Brown.
Marla and Steve Brown are still shocked their 19-year-old son Jason is an Olympian. Many thought the Highland Park native would charm the audience at Nationals, but no one expected him to earn one of only two spots to Sochi.
“While he (Jason) kept saying ‘2018,’ I kept thinking ‘Maybe. Who knows? He’s so consistent,'” says Steve Brown.
“You dream about it the whole time you are competing, one day maybe what if? But, you don’t really think you are going to be walking into the opening ceremony of the Olympics,” adds Marla.READ MORE: Red Cross Seeking Donations As Blood Shortage Worsens
Jason’s energy and teenager smile captivated the audience at U.S. Nationals. They gave him a standing ovation before he was even finished.
Now he’s a viral sensation with more than 2.6 million views of his free skate on YouTube. Even his ponytail has its own twitter account.
“I wrote a note to him before he got to nationals. It said, ‘skate with the joy in your heart and the passion in your soul.’ I really feel people connect that with him. I do think Jason has this quality that is so pure, so real and genuine, he’s just a sweet kid, people relate to it,” says Marla Brown.
He’s a self-motivated underdog. When he was three, he started skating at the nearby Highland Park Park District. “He’s the one that got up in the morning. We never set an alarm for him, he wanted to skate,” says dad Steve Brown.
“He focuses no matter what it is. We would play a game and he’d be stuck on that game for hours until he was great at it. I just hope he does his best, that’s all we can ask for,” adds Dylan Brown, younger brother.
“I can’t even imagine (the Olympics). That part really hasn’t sunk in. People keep saying “you have an Olympian” and I don’t think we have really begun to comprehend that,” says Steve Brown.MORE NEWS: CTU: Layoffs Will Hit Hardest Schools On South, West Sides
Jason Brown has 18 family members headed to Sochi.