Tuesday, May 27th was the opening day of the 2014 Forest City Owls baseball season. It was a special day, but a super young man named Landyn Johnson made it extra special, a triumph of life! This is his story, an inspiration for everyone.
Landyn is now 10 years old. When I first met him he was just 3. It was at a fundraiser at Ellenboro Elementary School. The fundraiser was for a person that had cancer, Landyn Johnson!
His parents, Kaleb and Misty, were constantly taking their first born for treatment at Presbyterian Medical Center in Charlotte. It was a fight for his life and his parents never gave up. To help with the mounting medical costs, the Ellenboro community came together to help.
Three years later when he was 5 years old, Landyn had gotten sick again. When I got together with Landyn and his parents, this is what I heard. He had gone into a coma the previous September and when he finally opened his eyes and awakened he looked at everyone around him, doctors, nurses and parents and said: “Jesus said I can stay with you a little longer!” Then looking at his dad, he added: “Jesus has hair just like yours!” Kaleb’s hair is very curly and black. It was a shocking and very blessed time for everyone. Needless to say, a joyous occasion. But the fight for life wasn’t over.
Finally at the age of 7, four years after the struggle began, Landyn was in remission! It was both an answer to many prayers and constant treatments. However, the intensity of the treatments and chemo took a toll on his young body. He now has osteonecrosis a disease of the bones, which he is being treated for.
Enough of the past, let’s talk about the present, especially opening night at McNair Field. This exceptional 10 year old loves life and especially baseball, and the Forest City Owls are his very favorite. He also likes to play baseball and prefers to play first base. Although he wants no sympathy, never complains, struggles with a body which suffers, yet as much as he can, he plays baseball.
Let’s get back to Tuesday, May 27th. The day before, his dad, Kaleb told Landyn about a surprise. He had been selected and was going to throw out the first pitch at the Forest City Owls opening game and also be the bat boy. Landyn was so overwhelmed that he could not control his emotions. All he could do was cry tears of joy and disbelief.
At McNair Field, after putting on the Forest City Owls bat boy shirt and head gear, Landyn was ready. The announcement came and he went to the pitchers mound and made a great throw to begin the game. He then put on his helmet and did a great job as bat boy for his beloved Owls. He also loved being in the dugout with all the players. Two of the players he quickly befriended, infielder Devin Wenzel and catcher, Lucas Owens. He also was very impressed with the Owls coach, Andrew Ciencin. “Coach Andrew” played for the Owls on both the 2009 and 2010 Championship teams. After the game, Landyn got the team to autograph a baseball. When I asked him what he thought about the game and what he was chosen to do, Landyn said: “It was really cool. I liked meeting all the players.” Being there was: “like heaven on earth.” He also thought his Owls were awesome, defeating the Columbia Blowfish 9 to 0!
Landyn’s dad, Kaleb said: “It was the best I’ve seen him in a long, long time.” His mom, Misty said he is all smiles and cannot stop talking about it. His 6 year old brother, Ryland is very proud.
If you ever meet Landyn, you’ll get a positive uplift on life. He always makes you feel better. His mind is way ahead of his 10 years. He is always positive, loving, smiling and can’t get enough baseball, especially his Forest City Owls.
Indeed, there could have been no one better chosen to begin the 2014 season, throw out the first pitch, and be the bat boy! Congratulations Landyn. We’re all very proud of you! Thanks for making all of us feel better about life!