Nichelle visit home of Nelson Madiba Mandela - May 2010
By Erika Gonzalez - email
BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) -
Birmingham business woman Nichelle Gainey will attend Nelson Mandela's burial this Sunday. Gainey received the invitation from his family. She says she overwhelmed with emotion, felt honored and knew she couldn't miss it for the world.
Growing up in Alabama, she always saw Nelson Mandela as an icon. She especially admires the lesson he taught the world in forgiveness.
Gainey grew a special connection with Mandela's homeland a few years ago. She works in sports marketing and her job took her to South Africa when the country hosted the World Cup in 2010.
She was at a World Cup meeting along with FIFA executives when Mandela made a surprise visit. She will never forget what he said to her at that moment.
"'A woman in futbol, that's great. A woman in futbol that has beauty, that's good.' So he was a man that had character, charisma," recalled Gainey. "It's the first time I ever felt speechless. I felt like I wanted to live my life at being better and being someone who could make a difference."
On Tuesday night Gainey traveled to Washington D.C. On Wednesday she will attend a memorial service at the National Cathedral in D.C., along with the South African Ambassador Ebrahim Rasool. On Thursday she will travel with Rasool to South Africa. Mandela's funeral will take place in his home town of Qunu on Sunday