One woman's search for an adorable toddler who was sitting in the stands at the Super Bowl on Sunday as a cardboard cutout is over.
Tampa Bay resident Caitlin Katz reunited 18-month-old Jet and his family with his cutout over Zoom on Wednesday after she took to social media in search of the boy and other owners of the cutouts that she took home with her from the Buccaneers vs. Kansas City Chiefs game. What was initially a nice gesture has turned into an emotional reunion and a new-formed friendship.
If you couldn't tell by his name, Jet's parents Travis Carney and Brittney Jungen are big New York Jets fans. Though they live in Waterloo, Iowa, Jungen wanted to surprise Carney and have Jet be part of the Super Bowl by submitting his photo to be part of the 30,000 cutouts.
Jet's photo just happened to be around the area where Katz was seated. She said she bonded with the photos during the game so she took them home with her and made headlines as she attempted to return the photos back to the submitters.
"I wanted to find out who they were and send it to them, especially (because) it wasn't a free thing, you know," Katz told NBC New York earlier this week. "I would want that for my kids."
Half of the photos came from people who spent $100 on them for charity and sent in photos of themselves to take their place at the game. The NFL had asked Jungen for a picture because she's a cancer survivor and has worked with a local charity. She battled with a rare form of sinus cancer since she was a child.
To hear that Katz scoured the internet to find their family made everyone a little emotional.
"I'm just scrolling through [social media] and there's an article, you know, the main picture was the picture of Jet. I'm like, wait a minute...," Carney recalled. Jungen added that she was also surprised even though she was the one who submitted the photo.
"I completely forgot about it though, until he sent me that picture. I'm like, 'that's my kid!'" she said.
At a time when COVID is keeping so many people apart, Katz's simple act of kindness has helped her connect with someone who's hundreds of miles away and created a meaningful bond.
"It's just so cool that somebody's seen Jet and thought of him and cares enough to send it back to us and reach out," Carney said.
When the pandemic is over, Jungen said she hopes everyone can meet in person and they will all have one cool story to tell.
"I hope that we can meet Caitlyn and her son and hopefully that's his friend. And we can say this is how you met your friend," she said.
"It's so touching and I'm just really honored to have met you," Katz told her over the Zoom call. "It makes me really grateful and I'm glad to have you as a friend now."