Camera travels from Rome to Williamsville
Ken and Kelly McAvoy traveled to Italy in September 2017 to celebrate their 25th wedding anniversary. This would be their first time visiting Europe, so taking photos of their travels was a priority. They planned to spend two weeks visiting the country, including the cities of Venice, Florence, Sorrento, and Rome.
On September 12, their first day in Rome, the couple hopped into a taxi with their camera in tow to visit the Vatican museums. When they arrived, the cab had no room to pull over, so they rushed out of the taxi amid horns blaring as they were holding up traffic. As the taxi sped off, they realized their camera was still in the backseat.
In addition to their travel photos, the camera also contained photos of their daughter Maggie’s recent prom and graduation from Williamsville South High School. They called all of the official “white cab” companies but heard the same disappointing response: No camera had been turned in. Ken even emailed Rome’s hospitality center but never heard back.
Fortunately, the couple had their cell phones to take pictures while they enjoyed the remainder of their visit to Italy, but they were disappointed to lose the camera and the vacation photos that were on it.
On Friday, October 13, one month from when they lost the camera, Ken received a call at work from Maggie saying that Williamsville South Principal, Keith Boardman, had left a message to call him. Turns out, Romana Padovani, a resident of Imola, Italy, located about 300 miles northeast of Rome, had posted a message to the Williamsville Central School District Facebook page trying to identify the owner of a camera that her friend had found.
Romana’s friend had gotten into a taxi in Rome and found a camera. Not knowing if the cab driver was trustworthy, he decided to take the camera to Romana’s husband, Andrea, who is an accomplished photographer.
With Andrea’s help, Romana searched through the photos and noticed a picture of a girl in a graduation gown standing behind a podium with an emblem that read “Williamsville South”. Romana began searching social media in hopes of finding the camera’s owner and found the district’s Facebook page. Williamsville’s social media specialist, Tracey Mancini, responded to Romana via Facebook and the two exchanged email addresses.
When asked if she could send the photo of the graduate to the district to help with the identification, Romana was unable, but found another photo of the girl holding a labeled envelope. Andrea zoomed in on the photo to see if they could make out the words. Thanks to the camera’s good optic, Andrea and Romana were able to read the words: McAvoy, Margaret M.
Tracey contacted Mr. Boardman, who confirmed that Maggie McAvoy had graduated from South in June. He, in turn, reached out to Maggie asking if someone she knew had traveled to Italy recently and lost a camera that contained photos of the Williamsville South graduation. She immediately knew – her parents' anniversary trip!
The district passed along Romana’s email address to Ken. After an exchange of emails, Ken received a package from Italy on Monday, October 23 – his camera in excellent condition.
Half a world away, Romana and Andrea were determined to do the right thing and return the camera to its rightful owners. In the age of social media, our world is a much smaller place.
Photo with Maggie McAvoy standing behind the podium at the Williamsville South Graduation June 24, 2017. The Williamsville South emblem helped in the search to find the camera’s owner. Photo by Ken McAvoy
Romana Padovani and Andrea Bassani pause for a photo op while visiting Tanzania. Photo provided by Romana Padovani