By David McCoy

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Social media actually contributed something positive to the world Friday.

A Minnesota Wild defenseman, and dozens of strangers, helped 12-year-old Forest Lake hockey player Kalei Forga reach her dream.

“I would never imagine this happening,” Kalei said.

She’s really, really good. So good that in December, she was picked to play for a World Selects Team that would spend 10 days in Europe in April, playing with and against some of the best young players in the world.

“I was excited. I didn’t think that at this age I’d be able to go play in France [laughs]!” Kalei said.

That is, if she could afford it — with its $3,700 price tag.

“I’m like, ‘OK, I’m don’t know how we’re going to pay for this without taking out a second mortgage or something ridiculous like that,’” said Kalei’s father, Jaime Forga. “And a few people had suggested a GoFundMe page.”

So they did that, and after three weeks, Kalei’s fund sat around $1,000, well short of her goal. But then something happened Friday morning.

Kalei Forga (credit: CBS)

“I don’t think I’ve put my phone down all day [laughs]!” said Kalei’s mother, Michelle Forga. “Just to refresh and refresh and like tweets and thank people for donating. And yeah, when Matt Dumba did it, I was like, ‘Is that THE Matt Dumba? Like, the real Matt Dumba? That can’t be,’ you know. And then I saw it on Twitter.”

An organization called Black Girl Hockey Club posted about Kalei.

“It’s to give support to and bring awareness to people of color in hockey, because [laughs], you know, you don’t see many black people in hockey. So it’s just a way for them to communicate, and share stories,” Michelle said.

That’s where Dumba heard about it, shared it and shared how he’d had a similar experience when he was younger. He then dropped $500 into Kalei’s fund. Dozens and dozens of complete strangers followed. The exposure helped her reach her goal in a matter of hours.

“That just feels like special to me that he actually took the time to write that to me, and donate the money. And it makes me happy,” Kalei said.

“I’m so happy I was able to, you know, take advantage of this opportunity I saw this morning, and I definitely wanted her to go on her trip,” Dumba said.

“I know representation is incredibly important, and for her to see people that look like her play this game, you mean, you can’t ask for anything more,” Michelle said. “And to have him support her, not knowing her, not knowing anything other than just her story, and seeing an opportunity to help her, that’s incredible.”

Kalei’s fund is now up to more than $4,500. They updated their goal to allow more donations to come in, to help pay for her parents and sister to make the trip. Visit Kalei’s GoFundMe page.

David McCoy

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