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'You grabbed my heart on TV': UK coach Vince Marrow delivers hope to Mayfield tornado survivors

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Posted at 2:40 PM, Dec 24, 2021

MAYFIELD, Ky. (LEX 18) — Sometimes, something good comes out of something so bad.

We first saw Beatriz Valero and her granddaughter in Mayfield, standing in what was left of her family room and kitchen. They rode out the tornado in a bathroom.

"I'm just glad and thankful to God we're alive," said Valero.

8-year-old Alayah told us she knew Christmas wouldn't be the same this year.

Combing through the rubble in Graves County

"The Christmas tree was right there, but then when I think the house came down on it, and the presents were under the tree," she said. "Christmas is gonna be a lot different because people don't have their stuff."

Those raw, innocent words felt miles away.

"We're on our way to go play Santa Claus to a little girl... ho ho ho," said UK Associate Head Football Coach Vince Marrow.

He's delivering some holiday cheer to Alayah and her family with a friend, Kelly Craft, former Ambassador to the UN.

"You know, I saw you on TV," said Coach Marrow to Alayah. "You grabbed my heart on TV, and I said, 'there's the prettiest little girl I've ever seen."

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Coach Marrow said he had to do something, and he did, bringing bags of presents to the family who's now staying with relatives until they can rebuild. Of course, it wouldn't be a real visit without a pep-talk.

"I can look at you and can tell you have a great personality and need somebody to nurture you. I'm going to be looking for you and say 'I met you when she was eight years old.'"

Sometimes it's the smallest things that mean so much.

"He told us that little girl, she's my friend, she got my heart, and she'll be my friend forever," said Valero.

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As if this wasn't enough of a surprise, Alayah got even more big news.

"I want to invite you all up for a football game," said Coach Marrow.

Not just any game. The Citrus Bowl, plus a trip to Disney World, along with some extra money to help them build back the home they lost.

"I cry because I never thought and never expected something from them," said Valero. "I never knew the people; I was very blessed they came a visited."

Once strangers, who are now friends, sharing a little hope when it's needed most.