I am a small town girl. I am very proud of my hometown of 300 some people (a large chunk of which I am related to)….Bagley, Iowa. I have fond memories of growing up on the farm, roller-skate night on the concrete slab in town, the Perry State Bank, the Bagley school, and the little league field. Yep, I think that hits all of the landmarks.
I now am also very proud to be an adopted daughter of Johnston, Iowa. Matt and I have called Johnston home for nearly 8 years, and have made Johnston our children’s hometown. While Johnston has just a few more landmarks then Bagley, it is really the community of parents, kids, and teachers that I love and appreciate the most!
Tonight Carsten had another coach pitch little league game, and it spotlighted what is so fabulous about this community. For those of you that don’t know Carsten that well, he LOVES baseball. He loves to play the game, watch the game, talk about the game, and even watch movies about the game…..you’re killing me Smalls! Three years ago Matt and I decided that we would have Carsten try Johnston Little League t ball. We were so nervous about this decision. Could Carsten handle it? How would the other kids treat him? Would the other parents accept him? Would the coaches be nervous about coaching a child with Down syndrome. Would we hear comments that would make our hearts drop? The first year we had a good friend of ours volunteer to be the coach, Steve Tracy. This eased some of our fears because we knew Steve would have our backs, and have Carsten’s best interest at heart. To this day when I ask Carsten, “Who’s boy are you?” He will look at me, grin, and say, “Steve’s boy!” The season was a huge success. Everyone accepted Carsten for Carsten…no questions asked. Last year Steve couldn’t be Carsten’s coach, so Matt volunteered as much as possible, and things once again went great!
This year Matt couldn’t volunteer to coach because of our hectic schedules. It was also time for Carsten to move up to the coach pitch league. Once again we were met with the same fears. Should we put him in the Johnston League? How would others accept him? We decided that we owed it to Carsten to try it again. We received the email that Carsten would be on the Royals this year with Brian Town and Brian Carico as the coaches. We showed up cautiously optimistic to the first practice. Things went so well that we stopped staying with Carsten at practice! Then the games started. Once again we showed up keeping our fingers crossed that all would go well. For the one millionth time, our community has knocked our socks off. When Carsten was up to bat the whole crowd started cheering and yelling for him. I don’t even know how they all know his name! Then once he made it to base. The other team’s little guys were giving him high fives! Everyone’s smiles seemed a little brighter, but the person with the brightest, most proud smile was Carsten….ok….maybe it’s me!
Matt and I chose very wisely when we picked Johnston, Iowa to raise our family. Kudos to all of you fellow Johnston parents, teachers, administrators, and coaches that have taught this generation how to accept people for who they are as individuals! The Christoffersons are proud to be Dragons! We are proud to live, work, and take part in a community that accepts all of us….just the way we are! And that my friends is priceless!