MINNEAPOLIS (KMSP) - A family from North Carolina lured to Minnesota for the Super Bowl went home highly disappointed. They say what started off as a surprise gift through a local charity was full of nothing, but empty promises.
Late December in Charlotte, the founder of Minnesota-based LYNC Worldwide, Patrick Bell surprised 11-year-old Dariah Smith and her sister Dayona with trip to Super Bowl LII. The event was part of a partnership with a North Carolina-based non-profit, aiming to help kids who are bullied.
“I was excited, especially because it was my first time going,” said Dariah.
But not long after boarding a plane for the first time and coming to Minnesota, the family’s excitement drastically changed. The Super Bowl tickets they were promised did not exist.
“Horrible,” said Teyoun McCombs, the girls' father.
“A disaster, a big disaster,” said Christina Davis, the girls' mother. “We stayed in a hotel that had rust and black stuff coming out of the sink.”
The family was kicked out of five hotels over the course of five days and went into debt paying for meals they didn't budget for and couldn't afford.
“It was supposed to be an all-expense paid trip and we were supposed to be able to meet celebrities and be taken care of because of the situation with my girls,” said Davis.
Bell told Fox 9 his for-profit company started five years ago and does charitable work in addition to connecting athletes and celebrities with networking opportunities. He admits he made a mistake by trusting a personal connection, who did not come through with the Super Bowl tickets.
“I did the best I could to try and make up for it,” said Bell. “I didn't come through with those tickets, and I have to live with that. I never in my wildest dreams would have put them in this situation.”
Bell did come through on putting the girls in a fashion show during Super Bowl week and another company based out of Charlotte provided the sisters with a shopping spree at the Mall of America. Beyond that, the family feels they are worse off than they were before.
“I just feel like it’s wrong because for a glimpse moment they were happy,” said Davis. “After months of being bullied some good was coming toward them, but it was just scratched away with no explanation, no apology.”
Bell says to make it up to these girls he wants to take them on a 25-city anti-bullying tour he has planned. Their parents don't trust him and say because of this situation, the bullying at school has gotten worse.