CHARLOTTE - Linda Reich said she kept her family's ties to North Carolina while the NFL moved her family across the country.
Linda and Frank Reich, the Panthers' first quarterback in 1995, settled in Charlotte for 13 years before Frank's coaching career led to five stints in four other cities, but the Queen City served as their home base.
So after her husband of 36 years and original Panthers quarterback gave his first remarks as Carolina's sixth head coach Tuesday, Linda couldn't help but grin.
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"We have an extended family here, we truly do," she said. "Not only personal family but so many friends who are like family. We've kept connections with all of those people through the years, and we've had so many wonderful responses. We've been embraced by so many friends. It's been so encouraging by the entire community just welcoming us back. So we are overjoyed to be here, and feel like we're coming back home."
The Reichs married in 1987, during Frank's playing career as a primarily backup quarterback in Buffalo. They have three adult daughters, Lia, Aviry, and Hannah, who all spent the formative years of their childhood in Charlotte, graduating from high school and eventually bringing their lives back to the state.
"We had 10 years up in Buffalo, which were an amazing 10 years playing up there, and then I played for three other teams as I finished my career," Frank said. "But when we were looking at, 'Hey, where's home base going to be long term?' it was the Carolinas. It's always been the Carolinas for Linda and I."
Linda is the president and co-founder, along with Frank, of their kNot Today foundation. Founded in 2019, the nonprofit is focused on awareness, prevention, and the development of healing programs for sexually abused and exploited children. Linda said it's a cause that has been "on our hearts for a lot of years."
The effort is based in Indiana, where the family lived when the organization started, with plans to expand to North Carolina as the Reichs transition to their next stage in Charlotte. Linda said she sees this new chapter as an opportunity to dive back into the area and dig into service opportunities.
"Everything is about being part of the community, enjoying the people, unearthing everything there is to unearth, and really be a servant of the community," Linda said. "How can we serve this community? How can we elevate the community? How can we support the community? Who needs us to do whatever we can to unite the Carolinas together?"
Family has always remained important to them, and Linda said everyone is involved when life-altering events come up. The transition brings a rush of excitement, and she embraces all the big moments have to offer.
"It's fantastic," Linda said. "We're just taking it all in. When momentous events like this occur in our family's life, our children are involved; everybody we love is involved, and it's just energizing. That's all I can explain. It's fun. We're blessed. We're encouraged. We feel supported."