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Peyton brought 'special ingredient' to Indy

Posted at 5:07 PM, Mar 07, 2016

INDIANAPOLIS -- Peyton Manning wasn't just the NFL's five-time most valuable player in the league – he was also an invaluable part of the city of Indianapolis.

Manning was a marketing machine for Indy. When he came to town, the Colts started winning. And when they won, the city's fortunes and profile rose.

Mayflower moving vans brought the Colts to town in 1984, but in many ways their time in Indianapolis began in earnest when Manning came to town. At his first home preseason game, Manning foreshadowed things to come.

"He lines up under center, takes the snap and lofts a 43-yard strike to Marvin Harrison," remembered long-time Colts fan Ray Bridges. "First-ever pass. You gotta be thinking, 'If this is the way it's gonna be for his career…' Maybe it wasn't quite that way all the time, but that was a sign of things to come."

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And, of course, there was the 2007 season when, after being down 21-6 at halftime, Manning led a comeback victory over the New England Patriots to win the AFC Championship at home. They went on to win the Super Bowl in Miami.

David Frick, the former deputy mayor who crafted the deal to bring the Colts to Indianapolis, put Manning's time here in perspective.

"He really took a basketball state and he and his colleagues made it a football state," Frick said. "We are like any other football state. We love football."

And Indianapolis loves what Manning and the Colts did for the city.

"Indianapolis today isn't what it is without Peyton Manning," said Chris Gahl, vice president of Visit Indy. "He is arguably one of the top 10 most influential people to be a citizen to help propel Indianapolis. Without Peyton Manning, this city looks a lot different."

Manning's influence extended beyond economic impacts, too. For nearly two decades, Manning has played a pivotal role at the St. Vincent Peyton Manning Children's Hospital.

Madeline Helping, now a student at IUPUI, is just one of the many patients who've passed through the doors of Peyton Manning Children's Hospital. As part of her care, she received a call from Manning himself.

"Surprising, amazing … it was just a very humbling experience to hear his voice and him expressing his concern for me and making sure I was getting the best treatment at his hospital," Helping said.

St. Vincent Health CEO Jonathan Nalli said Manning's impact is felt all over the hospital.

"He provides such an impact and a boost to how they're getting better and the care they are receiving," Nalli said. "We continue to look at ways to grow and expand that presence, because we've seen the impact on how he's making children better across the state of Indiana. He just provides that special ingredient."

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