ESPN NFL reporter Jac Collinsworth and producer Luis Aldea traveled with Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin and a crew from Operation Underground Railroad to the Dominican Republic and Haiti this summer.
What they witnessed on that trip changed their lives. The feature will run this weekend on Sunday NFL Countdown (10 a.m. ET, ESPN). Aldea spoke with Front Row about the process of reporting this unique story.
How did you discover this story?
[ESPN NFL analyst] Steve Young came to us with this story and the background of what O.U.R. [Operation Underground Railroad] does to stop child trafficking. Young is involved with the organization and alerted us of a trip to the Dominican Republic and Haiti that Mike Tomlin was taking with O.U.R. right before Steelers training camp began.
What was the most challenging part of reporting this piece?
The subject matter is the most challenging in my opinion. I wasn’t aware of how rampant this epidemic is and how millions of poor, innocent children are being treated around the globe.
Why was it important for you and Collinsworth to tell this story?
We felt it was so important to bring awareness to the issue of child trafficking. There are children all around the world, including this country, that need our help.
What do you think people will learn about Mike Tomlin from watching this story?
Coach Tomlin is a hands-on person. He could’ve easily written a check and watched from afar. But he wanted to experience the work that O.U.R. does and assist them in their operation. He felt it was important to travel to Haiti in order to educate himself on child trafficking and to assist the team in any way that he could.
Katie Hughes designed the social card illustration.