INDIANAPOLIS — Cathy Bush was 13 the last time she saw her dad.
Then, because of circumstances beyond her control, "I wasn't allowed to see him," she said. Her dad moved to Arizona, while she grew up in Illinois.
Once she turned 18, "I decided I was going to pursue a relationship with my dad . if he wanted a relationship with me," she said.
Through the years, they've talked by telephone and corresponded through mail, but neither had the resources to visit in person.
Bush won a Christian radio station contest aimed at helping people make their dreams come true.
On Monday afternoon, her dream came true at the Indianapolis International Airport. She cried as she hugged the dad she hasn't seen since Thanksgiving nearly 24 years ago.
Finally, her two children, Rachel, 11, and J.J., 2, were able to meet the grandpa they've only talked to on the telephone.
"We're doing good, Dad," Bush told her father, Darold Murray, 63, who sat in a wheelchair and wore shorts — not quite prepared for the cold Indiana air. He carried his possessions in a small orange gym bag.
"You look like your mom," he told her, and she responded, "Mom told me, 'You look like your dad.'" Her mother passed away several years ago.
After a few minutes of conversation, Cathy, her husband, James, and J.J. left briefly to get the SUV so she could pick up her dad without him having to walk too far. But before they went, J.J. wanted to give grandpa a kiss.
Meanwhile, 11-year-old Rachel waited with her grandfather in the baggage claim area. "Grandpa, I want this week to last 20 years," she said.
She also asked, "How did you know my grandma?" and he replied, "I married her."
Soon, the reunited family was on its way to Brazil to spend a week getting reacquainted. "This is what I've wanted for a long time," Bush said.
A Champaign, Ill.-based radio station, WBGL, made the visit possible. The station conducted a contest called Make Your Move "to help people fulfill their dreams," Bush said. She emailed them and told them her dream and what was holding her back. She was selected as one of 10 winners.
WBGL is a contemporary Christian radio station that can be heard in Terre Haute at 88.5 FM.
The radio station had sponsors that helped pay for some of the expenses associated with Murray's visit, including roundtrip airfare, a gas card for Bush to drive to the airport and a gift certificate for dinner. They'll also have a photo session on Friday.
"We helped get them on the road to fulfilling their dream," said Jennifer Briski, the radio station's promotions director.
The station received almost 400 entries in the contest, she said. Bush's story "pulled at our heartstrings," Briski said. "For us to be able to have a small part in this was a unique opportunity."
Family problems and alcohol played a part in the family's long separation, Bush said. "He asks if I have forgiven him; I tell him the past is the past," she said. "I won't get those years back, but I have the present time. I want my kids to know Grandpa."
The Associated Press. "Contest reunites Indiana woman, dad after 2 decades" The Associated Press. 6 March. 2012. Web.
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