Five Catfish Feeding Five Thousand

Here is a story that is tragic for a completely different set of reasons.

Our story begins at Notre Dame (The American College not the big cathedral in Paris). College Football is big busines in America and its star atheletes are rewarded with celebrity and big money proffessional contracts. Not to mention an effectively free education.

Star Football player Manti Te’o told the story just before playing an important game for his college, of a tragic story from his life. His girlfriend, one Lennay Kekua, it turned out had just died of Luekemia days after his Grandmother died and just a couple of months after surviving a car crash which nearly killed her. He vowed to dedicate his game to her (what she would have wanted apparently) and played his heart out scoring a huge ammount of touchdowns for his team and winning the adoration of the fans for pushing past his bereavemnt to contribute to the greater good. The greater good being winning at sports.

Details emerged of the tragic story, how he had spent hours on the phone listening to her breath as she died. He told journalist of the love of his life and tweeted about said love on a regular basis. Tributes where made, prayers sent, a pictures of a pretty young girl who had her life cut short early where circulated and publicity for the school and the sports team skyrocketed. A sports hero with tradgedy in his past was a great backstory for various human interest pieces.

Problem was it wasn’t true.

Manti it seems had made the whole thing up. There was no girlfriend, car crash or cancer and for reasons best known for him self, he had fictionalised the relationship as well as many of its more teary details. Particular interest came from a girl who asked the reasonable questions, ‘Why is my photo from Facebook all over the sports channel? And who is Manti Te’o? And why do they think I’m called Lennay? And more importantly why are they saying I’m dead?’

Later Manti claimed he had been the victim of an elaborate hoax where he had met someone online and only later discovered her not to be in fact real. A practice called ‘catfishing’. Notre Dame launched an investigation to look for the pranksters and claimed to have found a group online bragging about what they had done. This didn’t really mesh with parts of his story where he said he met her. 

No one knows exactly why he did this. Did he want more attention? Are there not enough girls, car crashes, or cancer sufferers in the world already that we need to make up more? Some people equate it to a culture of ‘pop idol’ where it is not enough to be good at something but have a tragic triumph over adversity back-story as well.

This would be simply a humiliating story for Manti but the whole story has a particularly unpleasant feel to it when compared to other events incidents which affected Notre Dame. After all the team closed ranks around him with one other player claiming ‘sure she’s real’ he had apparently met her. But this is not the first ugly PR story that college football had been involved in. When a number of allegations of rape had been leveled at Manti’s team mates last year, one girl was reportedly intimidated into not pressing charges by players and subsequently committed suicide afterwards. No arrests of any member of the team where made.

We seem to ignore real suffering in favour of sentimental fictitious stories where no one really suffers.

Are we really so interested in the fictional sorrows of our heroes that we ignore more real stories of human suffering that goes on everyday. WellFound is particularly sensitive as it works in areas where real young girls have their lives cut short all too regularly yet receive little attention from the outside world. 

We have launched a new page this week concerning girls entitled ‘Girls Of The World’ where we take particular interest in the females of the communities and have projects underway for toilets in Gonsin School in Burkina Faso to encourage more girls to attend. 

These are girls with genuinely horrific back stories who need our help and we assure you, they are very real. 




Operation WellFoundFive Catfish Feeding Five Thousand