By now most viewers and WKYC Facebook friends know that WKYC lost one of its employees in a car accident early Sunday morning.
I don't usually write about personal subjects here but I am making an exception. Here's how much we lost.
Do you have a friend who is the first to offer help, one who doesn't ask what they can do to help you but just shows up and starts helping? That was Danielle Fink, our night assignment desk editor.
A night assignment editor works the 3 p.m. to 11 p.m. shift at the main desk in a newsroom, a desk adorned with police scanners and computers, with a a two-way radio connected to the news trucks.
The editor is the heartbeat of the news operation, assigning videographers to go to fires and crime scenes, checking in with reporters on assignment, and updating stories for producers working on the next newscast.
They also answer the phones when viewers call with questions or news tips. There's also a dayside editor -- 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. -- and an overnight editor -- 11 p.m. to 7 a.m. All the editors at WKYC are wonderful.
So, what made Dani so special?
I posed the question "What would Dani do?" on my Facebook page Monday night when I was thinking about how sad and awful it was in the newsroom as we all gathered for the first time since we learned the news of her passing.
I answered my own question with: if this had happened to anyone else, she would have fed us and hugged us and checked on us through the day.
On Monday, we did that for each other, knowing that Dani would never appear that afternoon.
Dani was always taking care of everyone else. Someone remarked that she must have owned a card store because we all got birthday cards, sympathy cards, holiday cards, congratulations cards -- whatever the event was.
She was a fabulous cook and always brought in food to share, much of it tailored to our own particular "wants." Her cannoli and fritters were fabulous.
In fact, late Sunday night, after learning that afternoon that Dani was gone, when I started to unload my dishwasher, I started to cry. The top rack had two Tupperware containers from Dani, containers she had sent home with me Friday filled with dumplings and sauerkraut.
Her laughter filled the newsroom through the evenings and her plethora of contacts often put her ahead of the competition when she was gathering information for a story.
She had a nose for news and attention to detail that usually kept her at the desk quite a while after her shift was over. She called it "tying up loose ends." We called it dedication.
Dani always included a quote when she sent out the night's wrap-up. (That's a message to the newsroom so the morning and dayside producers and managers would know what to follow up on.)
Much to our heartbreak and comfort, we found she had one ready for Monday already in her computer in advance: "Every storm runs out of rain, just like every dark night turns into day. Every heartache will fade away, just like every storm runs out of rain." -- Gary Allan
That quote will be on the program at her memorial Mass Saturday morning.
Dani just wasn't the "heartbeat" of the newsroom. She was the heart.
I wish Dani could see the outpouring of condolences her death has created. Thousands have written, thousands have watched our on-air tribute to her that was posted online on wkyc.com and our Facebook page and left comments.
You never saw Dani on TV unless you caught a glimpse of her at the desk in the background of a newscast.
But I sure hope you have a "Dani" in your life.
If you do, don't wait until it's too late to tell them how much they mean to you. You might not get another chance and life is too short and getting shorter by the minute,