|Kevin Walsh, outside Lucas Oil Stadium|
|Kevin (red tie) with crew inside Lucas Oil Stadium after Super Bowl 46|
But there's one story that hasn't been told completely, and I will be restless until it's told in its entirety. It has little to do with football, and everything to do with kindness, humanity and what became a popular slogan during Super Bowl 46: Hoosier Hospitality.
Let me explain. I left my suburban Boston home a week before Super Bowl Sunday, saying goodbye to my wife, Jean, and daughters Samantha, 10, Amanda, 8. I was thrilled to cover my first Super Bowl. But as usual, I was sad to leave the family behind. This is the tougher side of TV. We do very exciting work and see things that most people will never have the chance to, but at the end of the day, we go back to a very quiet and lonely hotel room. It rarely changes, only the city does.
When I arrived at the Fairfield Hotel in Indianapolis, there was something waiting for me that made me feel at home right away. It was a handwritten welcome card from a Super Kid named Breanna. About 36,000 students from around Indiana colored cards that were left for visitors to Indianapolis. She drew a picture of herself which you see above. She wrote about how much she loved animals and the Indianapolis Zoo. Below is her additional artwork that was on the back of the card. It looked like something my girls do for me from time to time, artwork that often ends up on the refrigerator.
One thing I've discovered in my lifetime of covering news and sports is that the best stories often find you. This is one of those. My second book, Follow the Dog Home, was released the week of the Super Bowl. Really, what are the chances that Breanna's card would just so happen to end up in the hands of the one guest who just happened to release a book about animals at the same time?
I brought a signed copy of Follow the Dog Home to Indianapolis with me thinking I might bump into someone who might really want to read such a book. Little did I know that person would be 11-year-old Breanna. Here's where it gets tricky. I don't know Breanna's last name, or her school. I asked the Super Bowl Host Committee if it could help, but it said without a last name and school, finding her was all but impossible.
As a reporter, I don't accept that. I left the book with the Host Committee, but I've been left to search for Breanna largely on my own. Over the last few days, I've spent several hours calling dozens of Indianapolis Elementary schools hoping that someone, somewhere would recognize the girl's self-portrait and artwork. Most of the people I talk to, and most of them are women, love the story and want to help. They're sharing the story and pictures with art teachers, principals, liaisons and PR people.
I thought I had a match on call number four, but it turns out James A. Garfield Elementary School had a different girl from my Super Kid artist. Boy was that disappointing-- for me and the school secretary. But I have hope. We'll find the cute girl, with the unique name spelling, love of animals and a flare for pink. It's an eyeballs thing. Someone will have an Aha! moment, recognize her and her drawings, providing the tip that connects the dots.
|Kevin at Fairfield Hotel, Indianapolis|
So we have a few good stories at work here: the beginning, the middle and the end. I think that means we're on a journey. The most meaningful journeys are never the easiest. And so I search, looking for the little girl who could use a good book and a nice reward, for simply being herself.