Better Newspaper Contest

2014 Award Winners

Hoosier State Press Association - The Indiana Publisher - Better Newspaper Contest

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Page 61 of 67

Page 62 Best Sports Commentary/Category 13 First place Bob Kravitz The Indianapolis Star Comments: Strong reporting, an obvious trust of sources and a crystal clear narrative voice made these columns stand far apart from the pack. Great storytelling and humanity perme- ate the work. No cliches, just refreshing reads. Second place Stephen Holder The Indianapolis Star Comments: Stephen Holder pulls absolutely no punches in his direct style of sports commentary. His views are unapolo- getic but explained and backed up, either through reporting or personal experience. Very interesting and a change of pace. Third place Al Lesar South Bend Tribune Comments: These sports columns reflect deep community and human connections that intersect in the world of sports. A great forum to showcase interesting stories. Best Editorial Cartoonist/Category 14 See Page 12 for all divisions. Division 6 Bob Kravitz The Indianapolis Star Wade Tefft leafs through the pictures he keeps in a gold envelope. They are sweet memories, pictures of his mother, Laura, who has since passed away, standing shoulder to shoulder with Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning. They were taken just months after Tefft's parents, who lived on Indy's Far Northside, were victimized by a criminal who killed Tefft's father, Thomas, and stole the family car. "This ruthless animal who broke into our home and killed my dad is one end of the human spectrum," Tefft said as he sat at a desk at Mayo Aviation in suburban Englewood. "And then there are people like Peyton Manning who are kind- hearted and giving, and we have to remember that in times of tragedy. "There's goodness and kindness in the world." There are a lot of Manning stories like this one, stories of his charity and goodwill, most of which happen beyond the gaze of the TV cameras and without press releases. This is one of them. It shows how Manning has continued to do in Denver what he did for all those years in Indianapolis – reach out and touch people. It goes like this: In March, a masked gunman entered the Far Northside home of Thomas and Laura Tefft. Detectives still aren't sure what the circumstances were, but Thomas was shot and killed during the robbery. He was 67 years old, a glazier at Cook's Glass & Mirror Company in Indianapolis. Shortly thereafter, it was decided that Laura, who was dealing with breast cancer after a long remission, could not return to the home. So she moved to Denver with her son, Wade, his wife and three children. "One day, one of the grandkids was talking about some trouble at school, and my mother kept bringing up Peyton Manning's name and how he was such a role model and he had the kind of values you should model yourself after," Tefft said. "And it got me to thinking, what could I do to get my mom's mind off all the terrible things that have happened in her life?" In April, Wade Tefft had an idea: He would go through the Broncos directory, find the public-relations person – in this case, Patrick Smyth – and send a letter asking if Manning might drop a call to his suffering mother. Or a signed photo. Something, anything, that might help her deal with the horror of the previous months. Smyth passed the message on to Manning. "Let's have them come out here," he told Smyth. A call or a photo wasn't enough. He wanted to do more. When Wade went to tell his mother the news, she was in bed. "We told her, 'We've got some exciting news for you,' and her eyes got big, her jaw dropped, then she got out of bed and did a happy dance," Tefft said with a smile. "Then she was on the phone to all her friends in Indy, just elated." So in May, Wade and Laura made their way out to the Broncos' Dove Valley practice facility. There, they took a tour of the facility, and looked at the team's two Super Bowl trophies. They watched a spring practice. Then they met Laura's hero, Manning, enjoying lunch together before taking several photos. "We had those pictures displayed on the wall in her room," Wade said. "In the ensuing months, everybody who came into the house – hospice, relatives and friends – she had to show them the pictures and talk about how she had lunch with Peyton Manning." They didn't talk about football that day. They talked about family. They talked about values. They talked about what's really important. "He never seemed rushed," Wade said. "I can't say enough good things about Peyton Manning. He doesn't seem to have let his fame and fortune take away from his desire to be a positive influence on the people around him. The fact he'd take time out of his busy schedule for my mother speaks volumes." Sadly, three months later, Laura Tefft passed away. Manning has dived headfirst into the Denver community, just as he did in Indianapolis. Shortly after his arrival, 12 people died in the Aurora Theater shootings. Manning immediately contacted a Broncos employee and asked, "Is there anything I can do to help?" He then made calls to the families of the victims. It reminded me of something he did in Indianapolis. Many years ago, I had written about a boy from the Brownsburg team who went to the Little League World Series. The boy was badly injured in a skateboarding accident. Manning called me one night. "You think the family would mind if I got their number and called them?" he wondered. I shared the number. He called. I'm quite sure they didn't mind. It's said that athletes owe us nothing more than their performance on the field, and there's probably some truth to that. But for Manning, and for so many other athletes, there is more than that. They believe that to whom much is given, much is required. "Every day, people in Denver wake up and pinch themselves, thinking how lucky they are to have Peyton Manning in their community," said Joe Ellis, the Broncos' team president. "Not just on the football field, but off of it." He's done everything here he did in Indianapolis. Signing autographs. Calling children in hospitals. Hosting Make-A-Wish kids. Reaching out to the people who were victimized by the fires and floods in Colorado. The list goes on and on. He is coming back to a hero's welcome Sunday in Indianapolis, and it's not all because of the things he did on the football field. He touched lives there, changed them for the better, left a massive footprint on our soil. Manning's community value extends off field

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