CARY, N.C. (WTVD) -- Every resident at Phoenix Assisted Care in Cary has their own story of how a simple picture asking for a pen pal impacted their lives the past few months.
"It's neat to sit there and read them," said resident Bill Bullock. "A lot of them are from kids 8, 10, 12 years old saying, 'Hey I like soccer too.' It's great. I never in my wildest dream expected anything like this to happen."
81-year-old Bill lost his wife 3 years ago and says it can get lonely, especially, now with all of the COVID-19 restrictions. He asked if any soccer fans would be interested in being his pen pal.
"If you ever lose a spouse that's lonely," Bullock said. "That's the hard part of this COVID thing is social contact. That pen pal stuff works I have at last count: 245 responses. I'll be dead before I can answer them all."
"He's a US women's national team and NC Courage fan and I was like how do I meet this guy," said NC Courage forward Jessica McDonald. "Are you kidding me? He had me in tears just saying things like he was lonely and wanted a pen pal. I was like can I actually be his pal, please?"
He's gotten hundreds of letters but the most memorable moment to come was Jessica showing up with a shirt, autographed ball and player card.
"I'm pro-women sports because I coached girls," Bullock said. "Something struck a cord there and I got attached to them. I got really attached to them now that they went through all of this, gave me a jersey a soccer ball."
"When someone says they are lonely all they really want is obviously to have conversation with other people," said McDonald. "It was just such a beautiful conversation that we were able to have. We talked about soccer. Some of the players we knew."
Mr. Bill said it's always special to meet someone from the team you root for and that that day is one he'll remember for the rest of his life.
"I just think it makes people's days," said McDonald. "It makes people's lives. That's all we really want while we are alive is just some positive and cool memories to have. That's just one thing that I genuinely have fun with is connecting with people especially fans. People give us their support. We have people who are obviously season ticket holders."