My Friend Saved a Cow, and It's Apparently Not Good Enough...

My friend Kelly Manno is a dynamo. She’s a wife, mama grizzly, soon-to-be award-winning podcaster, crazy good photographer, shit disturber, and possibly the best marketer I’ve ever seen in my life.

The video of her daughter distraught over the St. Louis Blues trading T.J. Oshie garnered worldwide attention. She won three separate awards, including the “Lie-Time Achievement Award” on Neil Patrick Harris’ show, Best Time Ever.

She’s even been featured on Dr. Phil. I’m not allowed to disclose why.

And now you can add “Incidental Do-gooder/Pariah” as well. Let me explain.

Yesterday afternoon, Kelly was getting ready to pick her kids up from school. While waiting in the carpool line, she hopped on Facebook to see that six cows had gotten loose from a trailer that was headed for the slaughterhouse. Kelly thought to herself, ‘Hey, that might be fun to see if I can generate a little publicity. I just happen to have the dinosaur costume in the car!’

No, I’m not kidding.

The cows were not in what you’d call the “safest” area of town, but that mattered little to Kelly. After getting her kiddos dropped off, she high-t-rex-tailed it to the North City, where she quickly realized that she was no longer in Kansas... or Jurassic Park.

She got out of her car, and started putting her dinosaur costume on. She couldn’t see very well in the full costume, so she just put the legs on, with the intent of putting on the whole thing for the local TV cameras.

But one problem: she couldn’t find the cows. She ran up to anyone she came across in the neighborhood.

“Excuse me, sir, have you seen the cows?” she asked someone who may or may not have known a thing or two about narcotics.

Shocked at the sheer cajones of this five-foot woman wearing dinosaur legs, he pointed her in the right direction.

Soon, she was one of the happy mob of people who were, quite literally, cheering for the cows... or rather, cow. Of the six, five had been recovered, but one was defiant. Police officers tried to corral the beast with no luck whatsoever.

People in the crowd had already named him Chico... why, I have absolutely no idea.

TV cameras were recording, so Kelly donned the rest of her costume, and held up a homemade sign that she hastily put together.

Inspired by the sheer wits of this animal, Kelly had the idea of trying to save the cow... partly on a lark, and partly because it was doing everything it could to survive, and had been doing so for almost five hours at this point. She found herself on one side of a barricade calling out to everyone inside the makeshift corral, “Hey, I have rescue connections. Let’s save Chico.”

And no one listened.

After hours avoiding capture, the long arm of the law caught up with Chico. Exhausted, the beast gave in and rumbled into the trailer, as the door slammed shut.

With the show over, most of the crowd dissipated, but Kelly didn’t budge. “Where are you going to take the cow?”

Again... silence.

For those of you who don’t know Kelly, she reminds me of Glenn Close uttering that famous line in Fatal Attraction: “I will not be ignored!”

So she hot-clawed it back to her car (which was five blocks away), and she followed the news helicopter, which was now following the truck to the slaughterhouse... the original destination before the foray into madness began hours earlier.

She eventually found the trailer and began to follow it. At each stoplight, she wondered to herself, ‘What the hell am I doing?’

And then while waiting for the light to turn green, as if it somehow knew, the cow stuck his eye through a slit in the trailer door and stared into her soul. And all of a sudden, it all made sense.

“Oh my God,” she said out loud to herself, “they’re going to kill him. After all of this, they’re going to kill him.”

Her mission became clear: she was going to do everything humanly possible to save one cow.

She got all the way to the slaughterhouse, raced out of her car, and stood behind the trailer to keep it from backing up. At the same time, she dialed a good friend named Kelly Backes, wife of former St. Louis Blue and current Boston Bruin David Backes. Kelly immediately started pumping her friend up.

“Keep at this. You can do it. Find a rescue. It’s too late to turn back now.”

Kelly got off the phone and talked to the driver of the trailer. She wanted to know what it would take to free the cow. The driver told her that she would have to talk to the boss, but the cow was worth $1800 to the owner, plus another $200 if it somehow was spared. Cows don’t move themselves across town, no matter how much Chico tried to prove that wrong.

“I’ll write you a check as soon as I get home,” she said.

“Talk to the boss,” he replied.

The driver then backed up the truck, and let the cows out towards their final pasture. Chico was the last to exit, defiant to the end. As he was finally led out, his fierce demeanor almost instantaneously gave way to resignation, as if he somehow knew what was to come.

Kelly raced home, talking to her husband, Jimmy, on the way. “We have to raise $2,000. Fast!” she said.

“I’m going to start a GoFundMe as we speak,” he said.

So Kelly got home, and using her exceptional sleuthing skills she developed as an assistant producer for a nationally syndicated radio show called Steve and DC, she tracked down the owner of the slaughterhouse, a man named Omar, who could not have been nicer.

Kelly had reasonable logic. “You get the money you would have gotten, the cow gets saved, and everyone wins.”

They agreed to the $2000 price, and hung up.

“Kelly,” asked Jimmy, “I know that you’ve now saved a cow... but where are we gonna put it?”

Thankfully, Kelly had an ace up her sleeve. A former neighbor that she’d known for ten years lived on a non-working farm. They already had two cows who lived a life of leisure on their property. Kelly called them, begging and pleading for them to open their pasture to a new member of the family.

Kelly actually had a line on several rescue sites thanks to Kelly Backes, but her friend was definitely her first choice. Thankfully, that friend had a sense of humor.

“Oh my goodness, I would expect nothing less than you, Kelly!” she laughed. “Let me talk to my husband about it.”

Two minutes later, Chico had a new home, and they were excited to be a part of it.

And with that, Kelly passed out at midnight, drained in every way a person can be drained... emotionally, physically, psychologically. She had given every inch of herself to this, and that would have to be enough until morning.

And wow... what a morning. Waking up at 7am, she picked up her phone. In ten hours, the GoFundMe raised over $2000... with a chunk of that coming from somewhere in the greater-Boston area. When she saw this, she was elated, but not surprised.

“St. Louisans are so giving,” she said. “And Kelly Backes is just a rock star.”

As I write this, Kelly is on her way to meet Omar. She has a check for him, and she will personally lead the trailer to Chico’s forever home.

And as amazing as this story is, there is something even more amazing:

Some people are legitimately pissed off.

When I called Kelly this morning at our pre-determined time to talk, she was really irritated... which is never a good thing. Some environmentalists, specifically vegan environmentalists, are angry at Kelly because A. she’s not a vegan (she, in fact, ate a Taco Bell Breakfast Burrito this morning), and B. she didn’t donate the cow to a preferred vegan safe-space farm.

A lady shared on her Facebook page this morning:

Someone named Kelly Manno bought one, but she is not even a vegetarian, let alone vegan. She paid for one and is sending the cow to a random farm, not a sanctuary. Her go fund me said “free the beef”. What the hell will they do with the cow then?

And like that, once again after having my faith restored in humanity, someone goes and eff’s it up.

But that’s not all. On other sites, people actually mocked the effort, writing things like:

It’s only one cow.
You didn’t make a difference.
There are homeless veterans, and this is what she spends her time on?


So for the record, so that absolutely no one confuses my thoughts on this, let me be frank in the simplest of ways:

* There is not enough good in the world.

* When someone does something good, so much of society is quick to belittle the effort, or to find fault, or to break a sweat jumping to conclusions when they have NO idea what is going on.

* Meat is tasty. Yes, I had to say that.

* The people who actually get off the couch and do something for someone or something less fortunate are too busy to belittle others who are trying to make a difference.

* You only have to change the fate of one life to change the world.

While Kelly was so, so down about the venom that was being spewed about her, she left me with this gem:

With all of the hate coming at me, or the comments that nothing that all of us did together made a difference, I just keep thinking about that poem called The Starfish Story. Google it. It’s worth it.

Yes. Yes it is.


Dan Duffy is a husband, dad, video producer, author, and testicular cancer survivor. His memoir, The Half Book: He’s Taking His Ball and Going Home, is available on Amazon in print and e-book versions. Meet up with Dan this year at Stupid Cancer’s CancerCon in Denver, the Midwest Young Adult Cancer Conference sponsored by Gilda’s Club in Madison, and Stanford Medicine X in Palo Alto.

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