A year ago, die hard Penguins fan Kelly Sowatsky attended a game carrying a homemade sign with a potentially life-saving message. Kelly was in desperate need for a kidney, and she took her search to PPG Paints Arena in hopes of finding a donor. Standing along the glass during warmups before the Penguins were scheduled to take on the Canadiens, Kelly held her sign in the air and caught the eye of Penguins’ Director of New Media Andi Perelman.
Perelman sent a social media worker down to document Kelly and the sign, taking a picture that was shared on the Penguins twitter account. Almost immediately, Kelly and her sign blew up all over social media and her message began to spread. This led to numerous media interviews, including here at Pensburgh. Before she knew it, her search for a kidney was spreading around the hockey world, and support began to pour in from every direction.
Nearly eight months after that fateful night in Pittsburgh, Kelly received a kidney from fellow Penguins fan Jeff Lynd, who was inspired to get tested after seeing Kelly’s message all the way back in April. When he learned he was a positive march for Kelly, he made the decision to donate. After a successful operation in November, Kelly and Jeff were honored by the Penguins at a game in December.
Now, a year after her trip to PPG Paints Arena with her neon green sign, Kelly had her story featured on ESPN as a part of the network’s “E:60” program on Sunday morning. You can watch a clip of the segment below or the whole piece right here and learn about Kelly’s long journey from holding a sign at a game, to receiving a kidney, to meeting her favorite Penguins players Sidney Crosby and Jake Guentzel.