Lost pen pals from 1974 to be reunited

HOUSTON – In 1974 a girl from rural Nebraska sent a few words halfway around the world. With them came a friendship that would last a lifetime.

“Dear Kimberly, and this is June 2nd 1974, my name is Dawn Williams. I live on Alexandria Station. I was ten on the 17th of April this year and I am in grade five,” Kimberly Jennings read.

That is the beginning of the very first letter 11-year-old Kimberly received from her new pen pal in Australia.

“There was only about 15 kids in my school, and we didn't go into town very often and I was lonely and my mom said, 'Well I had a pen pal when I was your age and we should get you a pen pal,'” Kimberly remembered.

The two would go on to exchange more than 100 letters over the next seven years. Then in 1981 the letters stopped.

“I think I was just a teenager and getting ready to go to college and everything, so I just kind of stopped writing, but I never really meant to stop so I always kept those letters,” Kimberly said.  “I thought someday I'd love to get a hold of her but how in the world would I ever find her.”

In the 1980s finding her would have been nearly impossible. However, when she rediscovered her box of letters in August, Kimberly knew of a way that might work: Facebook.

“I went through all her letters.  I knew her mother's name, I knew her dog's name, all of this stuff and I compiled this list,” Kimberly said.

She put up a posting with her story and what information she had and asked people to share with anyone they knew in Australia.  Within 48 hours she was reunited with Dawn.

“Now we're doing the messenger but it's instant, which is awesome," Kimberly said.

But that's not where the story ends. For the first time ever on Wednesday, which is also Kimberly's birthday, the two will meet face to face.

“Really, you feel like you've known this person since I was 11, what, 42 years, something like that. That's a long time, but I've never met her in person,” she said.

Tomorrow when Dawn and her husband land at Bush Intercontinental KPRC will be there to witness the "first-time meeting" 40 years in the making. You'll be able to witness it yourself by tuning in Wednesday night to KPRC.