Roy Exum: Leah Wilson’s Special Night

Sunday, November 4, 2012 - by Roy Exum
Roy Exum
Roy Exum

When Leah Wilson was honored with the rest of the seniors on the Lee College soccer team last night, there were many of her friends and family on hand to sing her praises. Among them, there were three in particular who view the goalie in a far-brighter light and with all due respect to every senior who has played so well for the Lady Flames, I believe you need to know what these three people felt when Leah’s name was called last night.

I have an Internet “friend” of sorts who told me about what a triumph Leah Wilson has been throughout her life and alerted me to the special three who would be attending last night’s ceremony. The first is Chris Johnson, a hero and an overcomer in his own right. “When Leah was in the second grade at Spring Creek Elementary, she met a new friend named Chris Johnson. She came home one day and told her family about Chris and how his mom had come to school to talk to the children about him.

“When asked what she meant, Leah said there was something wrong with his legs. It was later learned that he had Duchene’s MD. Through the years Leah and Chris have maintained a wonderful friendship. She has watched him go from walking, to being in a manual wheelchair, and then to a motorized wheelchair. Their friendship has never wavered.

“Chris used to get called down on the playground for doing wheelies and trying to give friends rides! Tonight when Leah is presented as a senior, he will be there. She wants him on the field as her “brother." That is the kind of friend Leah is. She is a friend for life.”

Then there is a 10-year-old who – just several nights ago – dressed up as “Leah Wilson” for Halloween. It seems that a Sunday School chat revealed the young girl is an aspiring goalie for a team from East Ridge. Her mom said her daughter was a little hesitant about playing goalie but that her coach had been affiliated with Lee University and – guess what – that’s where Leah Wilson goes to church.

“A few weeks later when Lee sponsored a fundraiser for the Austin Hatcher cancer group, two groups of young girls came to be presented on the field with the Lady Flames. One was the team coached by the lady from the Morris Hill Sunday School class and the other was the team that Lee coach Matt Yelton's daughter plays on. The team had sold shirts to raise money for the Austin Hatcher cancer group.

“This little girl brought her shirt and a permanent marker and asked Leah to get the team members to sign it for her. She got it signed and it was returned it to the delighted little girl. The little girl had a rough couple of games and was feeling a bit discouraged. She looked at what Leah had written on her shirt.

“It said something to the effect of ‘Remember Who You Play For.’ The little girl copied that quote and put it on her bedroom wall. For Halloween, she borrowed a few things that were related to Lee soccer, a scarf, T-shirt, and a sweatshirt that said WILSON on the back. She dressed up as ‘Leah Wilson, Lady Flames goalie.’

“When Leah was growing up playing soccer she had many mentors she looked up to. Now she has become a mentor. This little girl and her dad promised to be there with the rest of the ‘family’ cheering Leah on.”

Wow, I love stories like that. But I would have never known it had the third person not sat down and written me about how proud she was of Leah’s glorious soccer career but – far more – for the Godly woman our soccer star has become. Leah leads a Bible study, she is the first to volunteer as a member of Lee’s service group, DZT, and she has blossomed in a way that no one would have ever dreamed.

Usually I don’t reveal my sources but Leah needs to know (and never forget) that third person is Leah’s mother, Janice. As I salute the Lee Lady Flames, I am thrilled that Chris Johnson, a 10-year-old admirer, and Leah Wilson’s mother got an extra-special tingle on what was already a special night.

That’s what it is all about.

Leah Wilson
Leah Wilson

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