News desk veteran and mother stays anchored through life’s challenges.
WTAE Channel 4 Action News anchor Kelly Frey fell in love with the city in the 1990s as an undergrad at the University of Pittsburgh. After several years down South, she was thrilled when her husband, Jason Luhn, who is currently a Major in the Air National Guard, was re-stationed in Dover, Del. That brought the couple back to the ‘Burgh. Jason was able to officially move here a few years later after joining the 171st Air Refueling Wing in Coraopolis piloting the KC-135 Stratotanker. For more than a decade, Frey’s smile has greeted TV viewers on weekday mornings.
“It’s such a gorgeous city, and there’s so much to it,” says the West Chester, Pa., native of her adopted home. “It’s a wonderful city, and yet it’s a tough city. There are gritty parts and beautiful parts and incredible views. I love it.”
Last summer, Frey shared difficult news with her fellow Pittsburghers: She was pregnant, and her son’s prognosis seemed dire. At only 13 weeks, among other complications, doctors saw a large quantity of fluid collecting where the brain tissue should be. The diagnosis was terminal. But his birth in September was nothing short of a miracle—Bennett was stronger and healthier than expected. “He’s the happiest little guy, and we are going to do whatever we can do to make life as sweet and full for him as we can,” Frey says. “I still look at him and cry sometimes when I hold him because I can’t believe we have him.”
Bennett smiles and talks lots of baby talk, but some days are tough. He occasionally needs hospitalization and is set to attend the medical day-care center at the Children’s Home of Pittsburgh. Despite the challenges, you can hear the joy when Frey talks about motherhood.
PM: When you have free time, how do you spend it?
K.F.: If I do anything right now, it’s sleep!
PM: What has it been like juggling parenthood and career?
K.F.: Jason is able to stay home with Bennett in the morning, and then I usually race home. My schedule is fairly set, which helps.
PM: How do you stay plugged in away from work?
K.F.: If it’s local-news time, I’m watching local news on TV. But then also my Blackberry is basically always with me.
PM: Have you heard from many people since Bennett’s birth?
K.F.: This community is just incredible. There have been lots of e-mails, phone calls and letters. I’ve read every single one.
PM: How is Bennett?
K.F.: He’s more than 18 pounds already and wearing 9-months-size clothes at 5 months! It’s going to be a journey with him, but he’s an amazing little boy. I know this sounds odd, but even at 5 months old you can see the determination in him.
PM: Your strength through all of this has inspired many people. What has inspired you?
K.F.: So many people that we’ve met along the way at Children’s Hospital—parents who have three children at home and then one child in the hospital with all kinds of the special needs. I don’t know how you juggle that and give them all the attention they need. But these parents do.
PM: Pittsburgh has great medical facilities. Has that helped?
K.F.: Children’s Hospital is just one of the best of the best—such incredible doctors. And then the Children’s Home—there’s not another facility like that around the country. You don’t realize these places are there until you need them.
PM: Any parenting advice for our readers?
K.F.: With Blackberries and TV, you can just get overloaded, and you don’t even realize you’re doing it. But you need to make an effort to invest yourself in the here and now, in the present, because children deserve that.
PM: Any plans for the coming months?
K.F.: I can’t wait to go to a baseball game with Bennett. I was thinking of Pitt football games in the fall, too. And for me, I want to do Lawrenceville. I’ve been to many of the shops at different times, but I’ve never spent a whole Saturday just going to one after another.
PM: Your favorite treat?
K.F.: Mad Mex. You can’t miss the Pick-A-Dip and the Super Mad Mex Burrito.
Watch Kelly Frey weekday mornings from 5-7 a.m. on WTAE Channel 4 Action News; pittsburghchannel.com.