Linda and Frank Reich are out to change the world. The way they have it figured, making the world a safer place is making it a better place to live.
Now if this all sounds a bit overwhelming and very much like a huge undertaking, it’s only because that it is. But the Reichs have the active faith, the resources, the platform and the cooperative teamwork to pull it off.
The Reichs are both 1980 graduates of Cedar Crest High School, Frank’s the head coach of the Indianapolis Colts and their charity is kNOT TODAY. Their mission is to eradicate – or at least decrease – the exploitation and abuse of children.
Right now, it’s a mostly local initiative in Indianapolis, but one the Reichs are seeking to grow on the national stage. At its most basic level, kNOT TODAY aims to address the trafficking, sexual abuse and general exploitation of children between the ages of three and 18 through awareness, prevention and recovery treatment.
“When we go through life and tackle causes a little bit, we tend to bind together,” said Linda (Fick) Reich, the president, and along with Frank the co-chairperson, of kNOT TODAY . “Whether it’s as spouses or partners, you get pretty close. Frank and I are a team, just like Frank and his football team. I think it’s really a reflection of our lives together. We make each other better, we grow together. And we set the bar high.
“Our hope is that people’s eyes will be open to how pervasive a problem that it is,” added Reich. “It’s my responsibility to protect children, whether it’s one person or a million. This isn’t really a new issue, but more people are realizing that it’s a problem. My hope is that people would care. It starts in communities with one person at a time, and it can make a huge impact. People can make a difference.”
The Reichs founded kNOT TODAY about two years ago and formally opened the national headquarters of the foundation with a ribbon-cutting ceremony at a 17,000-square foot, state-of-the-art building they purchased then renovated on the east side of Indianapolis in November of 2020. Through the Indiana-based social service agency Ascent 121, kNOT TODAY provides direct services to children who have been identified as being abused or at the risk of abuse.
kNOT TODAY provides various levels of therapy, financial aid and basic human services to children who have been or could be abused. ‘kNOT TODAY strives to bring about a world which cherishes and protects the beauty and innocence of every child.’
“I’m very passionate about it,” said Linda Reich, the matriarch a Reich famil that includes three daughters a granddaughter. “I’ve counseled victims and seen the effects of it first-hand. I’ve had people tell me personal stories of what it’s like to trust an adult and have that trust betrayed. I’ve seen the emotional carnage and how it still hurts deeply. It’s such an act of cowardice. The perpetrators need help themselves. Adult sexuality should be for adults and not include children.
“It’s horribly uncomfortable to talk about,” Reich added. “Who wants to talk about this issue? It’s a deep dark secret. People don’t want anyone to know. To be honest with you, I don’t want to talk about it. But for me, it’s something the Lord tells me I have to do. Adults have to advocate for children. It’s our moral duty. If I don’t do it, who will?”
The numbers are alarming.
In 2019, 18.4 million cases of child sexual abuse imagery were reported in the United States, up from one million cases reported five years earlier. Also in 2019, tech companies reported over 45 million on-line photos and videos of children being sexually abused.
“The more I’ve talked to people and the more stories I’ve heard, it’s (child sexual abuse) absolutely across the board (social and economical factors),” said Reich. “That’s the issue. Predators have gotten very, very savvy. Adolescents are confused as it is, then they’re set up. They treat children as a commodity. People think it occurs in just urban communities. Predators don’t treat children like they’re human beings, because our society is so over-sexed. It’s just a vicious cycle of perversion.
“The reality is it’s been going on for quite some time,” continued Reich. “However, it has escalated 100 fold. When people get on the internet and see inappropriate things, it doesn’t leave their minds. It’s an addiction. It’s a sexual addiction.”
Among other things, kNOT TODAY stands for ‘no sexual abuse of children today, or any day.’ The knot represents what can be accomplished when people work together.
“I think one of the big issues is what happens when children don’t understand what love is,” said Reich, who has earned a master’s degree in divinity. “If love isn’t pure and caring and good, what is love? Then the question becomes: ‘Who am I?’ If children can’t trust adults, they have no guide to view life, so they’ll perpetuate hurt. Hurting people hurt others.
“As long as we’re here, sin will never be eradicated from the earth,” Reich continued. “I look at it this way, with all of our power, we want people to bind together and do something to help. I want people to be responsible adults for the well-being of children. They can make a choice to help a child.”
Over the past three decades, during Frank’s career as a player and a coach, the Reichs have moved and lived all over the country, and become involved in a number of charitable causes. But kNOT TODAY might represent their biggest charitable commitment yet.
“That’s absolutely true,” said Reich. “This isn’t the only thing we’re hanging our hats on. We’ve also taken a very strong stand on social injustice. There are a lot of great causes around the country, and we’ve supported many of them. We believe we are created in the image of God, and helping the world is a privilege. But there are a lot of good people in the NFL.
“This started in college and it’s evolved as we’ve moved,” concluded Reich. “I’ve known about this for a very long time. We’ve always looked at it like, ‘When someone is given a high platform, that’s a high calling.’ We feel we need to give back to human beings. Our brothers and sisters are everywhere and everyone was created equally, so everyone should be treated equally.”