Locals in Kazan have come to the aid of a disabled Colombian fan who was in danger of missing out on the World Cup experience when his electric wheelchair suffered an unexpected battery failure.
Julio Pico is in Russia for the World Cup, where he is following his beloved Colombia team.
He was traveling to the city of Kazan to watch his team face Poland on Sunday night, when disaster struck.
One of the batteries in his wheelchair failed while in Ulyanovsk en route to the game, leaving him with just one functioning power pack which was almost dead on arrival in Kazan.
That meant Julio had to constantly recharge the remaining battery – a huge inconvenience which prevented him from playing a full part in the World Cup celebrations taking place in the central Russian city.
However, that’s when locals stepped in to help. An appeal was put out on social media, and through the help of the ‘Kind Kazan’ (Dobry Kazan) and ‘Day of Good Deeds’ movements, a replacement wheelchair was found for Julio – not just for his stay in Kazan, but for the whole of his time in Russia this summer.
The new wheelchair allowed Julio full mobility around Kazan – including to get to the stadium for his team’s 3-0 win against Poland on Sunday night.
A delighted Julio thanked Kazan locals for their help in his hour of need.
“When I came to Russia, I had some problems, I was really surprised how people responded. The people here are wonderful, really kind,” said Julio, who is attending his second World Cup.
“I’m so grateful that the people of Kazan helped me with everything. It was real help. I really appreciate it. Thank you, thank you, thank you to the people of Kazan!”
He was also impressed with the replacement wheelchair provided to him.
“It’s just like the one that broke, and I think it’s even better… I will try out its possibilities.”
Julio, who wears a Colombia shirt with the name of his favorite player, James Rodriguez, on the back, was also no doubt impressed by his team’s performance in Kazan, as goals from Yerry Mina, Radamel Falcao and Juan Cuadrado handed the Colombians a 3-0 win against Poland.
He was among the 43,000 fans in Kazan Arena to see the game, and praised the stadium and its facilities.
“I felt safe at Kazan arena. The infrastructure around is well adapted for people with disabilities, everything is accessible for fans like me.”
Marat Ismagilov, the manager of the ‘Kind Kazan’ movement said the people of Kazan were more than happy to help their World Cup guests in any way they could.
“We’re really happy. This is a very hospitable city, thanks to everyone.
“People heard about the problem, responded together with the ‘Day of Good Deeds’ movement, and found the possibility and time to provide our guest with a change of wheelchair, so that he wouldn’t experience any problems, and for him to be a full fan at the World Cup.”
Colombia play Senegal in Samara on Thursday in their final group game, as they hope to book their spot in the last 16.
Julio will no doubt be giving the team his full support.