An Oklahoman who now lives in Africa is getting some much needed help from friends she has not seen in 18 years.
Jennifer Freeman left Oklahoma for the big city and big dreams of becoming a successful singer. She said when that did not work out, she ran away from her friends back home, too embarrassed that she did not make it big.
Now she lives in Tunisia with her husband and son, but recently got some terrible news from family back in Oklahoma. Doctors said Freeman's mother only had six months to live. News reached Tunisia last week that her mom's health was deteriorating much faster than expected.
"My stepfather told me that one of those nights she cried out, ‘Is Jenny here yet?' And that really wrenched my heart and I said, ‘I've got to go home and see my mom,'" said Freeman, who Skyped with News 9 on Friday.
She has been stuck more than 5,000 miles away from home because her family does not have the $2,500 to pay for a plane ticket back to Oklahoma.
Freeman posted about the pain of not saying goodbye to her mom on Facebook. Desperate, she asked for someone to loan her money. Instead of getting that loan, her high school classmates from Mustang's class of 1994 took matters into their own hands.
"I said, ‘Hey, Jennifer's mom is in hospice care. She needs about $2,500 to get back. You know there are 300 of us on the site so if everybody gave $5 or $10 we'd be there in no time,'" said organizer Phil Pierce. "The outpouring was just amazing."
A week later the group raised more than $2,200 to get Jennifer and her son home so they can be with their mom and grandmother before she passes away. Freeman has been overwhelmed by the good deed.
"I don't know to repay them. Except for wish them the best. I wish I could," she explained. "I'm just so humbled and grateful that they reached out to me."
Pierce, however, knew it was worth a try. He knows Oklahoma well and knows those who live here always help a friend in need, even without seeing her for almost two decades.
"We can pull together and that's what the country needs. Everybody complains about us being broke, but it's these kinds of things that shows it's not," he said.
Freeman also said the story has reached beyond her family. She said people in the streets around her house in Tunisia have been talking about it. She said their attitudes have changed about Americans as they hear about the compassion and kindness Mustang's class of 1994 showed to her.