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‘Shocked’: Lions fan from London finds Michigan family who inspired fandom after 39 years

By Marisa Oberle

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    DETROIT (WXMI) — A Detroit Lions fan from London has reconnected with the Michigan family that first sparked his fandom nearly 40 years ago.

“Lou Ann had all the details, the dates, which I also had, the place, Gap of Dunloe, so really, really specific,” said Alan Bolchover. “She knew where she’d stayed, which was about 15 minutes away from where I had stayed.”

39 years

An update on a story FOX 17 first brought you last month: a Lions fan in England wanted to reconnect with the Michigan family that first sparked his fandom nearly 40 years ago. Thanks in part to our report and social media, we can now say he found them.

‘Shocked’; Lions fan from London finds Michigan family who inspired fandom after 39 years By: Marisa OberlePosted at 10:25 PM, Feb 04, 2024 and last updated 9:19 AM, Feb 05, 2024 MICHIGAN (WXMI) — A Detroit Lions fan from London has reconnected with the Michigan family that first sparked his fandom nearly 40 years ago.

“Lou Ann had all the details, the dates, which I also had, the place, Gap of Dunloe, so really, really specific,” said Alan Bolchover. “She knew where she’d stayed, which was about 15 minutes away from where I had stayed.”

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Last month, FOX 17 shared the plea Bolchover made on social media to fans of the boys in Honolulu blue to help him find Lou Ann and Terry Counihan, a Bloomfield Hills couple who inspired his love for the team when they gave him a Lions hat while on a family vacation in Ireland in 1985.

At the time, Bolchover did not know their names or many other details about them, but the Counihans’ son saw Bolchover’s post and thought it could be them since they went to Ireland that year to visit family.

As Lou Ann read Bolchover’s description of a group tour, she vaguely remembered a conversation with strangers so she reached out the day before the NFC Championship. Photos the Counihans have from the trip, which included a picture of Bolchover and his brother riding donkeys, helped them put things together.

“Shocked and surreal,” said Lou Ann. “It’s very cool though. It’s amazing that somebody could be interested in the Lions not being from Detroit.”

Terry added, “They talk about the NFL trying to make more inroads into Europe and this sounds like a perfect example of how that seems to be working out.”

The three are grateful for the opportunity to meet each other again but want to now use their connection to raise awareness on Rett syndrome, a rare genetic neurological disorder that occurs almost exclusively in girls, including the Counihans’ daughter, Megan.

According to the International Rett Syndrome Foundation, it causes a progressive loss in motor and language skills even though they develop as expected during their first 6 to 18 months of life.

“They have gained skills like saying ‘Mama’ and ‘Daddy’ and picking up their bottle and drinking it themselves and starting to crawl or even walk and then they lose those skills,” said Lou Ann. “It is devastating to the family and a big surprise.”

The Counihans and Bolchover urge people to support efforts to study diseases that impact the brain.

“All the neurological research helps people with Parkinson’s, ALS … and then maybe even ultimately Alzheimer’s,” said Lou Ann. “Now we’re talking about lots of people. To our society, that’s a lot of cost and, so, let’s take our money and put it into research so we don’t have to spend so much money on health care.”

There is no cure for Rett syndrome, but the Counihans and Bolchover say a recent clinical trial and the Lions historic 2023 season encourages them that one can eventually be found.

“I just hope that I stay alive long enough to see both [a] Super Bowl win and Rett syndrome cured,” said Lou Ann.

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