SOUTH BEND, Ind. (WNDU) - The NewsCenter 16 family had a very special moment in the WNDU Studios Tuesday afternoon, and we're incredibly proud to share it.
Many viewers know Maureen McFadden is retiring next month after almost four decades bringing you stories from all around Michiana, and even from overseas, on WNDU-TV.
Tuesday afternoon, Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb made a surprise visit to celebrate Mo's legendary career, presenting her with one of the highest awards any Hoosier can receive: the Sagamore of the Wabash
"It's so good to meet a living legend," Holcomb said as he entered the studio, surprising Mo and most of her colleagues gathered there. "Your reputation is throughout the state of Indiana. I don't know how you did it for so long, but you did it with class and you made it look easy. You inspired so many. And you've really – for your craft, for your business – you've set the standard. I don't know of anyone in my profession that has connected with and earned the trust of more Hoosiers than you have over the years. For that reason and many, many more, I want to recognize you as not just one of Indiana's best and finest but the newest Sagamore of the Wabash."
Mo was shocked and thanked Holcomb for the honor.
"I never expected this at all," she said, holding the framed award with her husband, Jim, at her side.
Maureen has made no secret of the fact that one of her first orders of business after retirement is cleaning out her basement, a fact to which Holcomb was no stranger.
"I heard you're cleaning your basement out, so don't put that in the basement," he said of the framed award.
"No, this will not go down there," Maureen assured him.
Holcomb congratulated her once more.
"This will always be treasured," Mo said.
"You're a state treasure," Holcomb said. "Thank you."
"As are you. Thanks for the great job you're doing."
After most of the NewsCenter 16 employees exited the studio, Mo and the governor continued their chat, with Holcomb providing some historical context for the award.
"The various Sagamores of the Wabash, dating back to the '40s, back when one of my predecessors Ralph Gates created the award, was to recognize folks who helped build and guide and direct our state to the place we are today," he said. "Maureen is the latest example, and overly deserving so, of contributing to the life of our state and inspiring others, and that's what this is all about."
"Thank you. Hoosier, through and through," Mo said.
"This is home," the governor responded.
Mo was understandably emotional about receiving the award from the governor.
"Look at me, now I'm tearing up, because I'm thinking, 'I wish my mom and dad were see to see this," she said on the air after reliving some of the day's events in a news package. "But [I'm] truly honored."
To view the full lead-up and surprise, watch the Facebook Live. Holcomb's entrance and the surprise presentation begin around the 16-minute mark.