Let me tell you a little story…
On Saturday, we took the kids to the Wheeling Cabela’s to see Chris Higbee in a free outdoor concert. Chris Higbee was the founding member of the Povertyneck Hillbillies and has since launched his solo career. He’s a very well-known fiddle player and singer around Ohio/West Virginia/Pennsylvania Tri-State area and always puts on aÂ fantasticÂ show. He has an amazing band and has a very family-oriented show, which includes his beautiful wife, Melissa, as duet partner and backup singer.
Our son is 10 and, as you may know from my “Welcome” page here, deals with autism and ADHD every day. One of the things we are always trying to help him learn is the fact that he can’t always win or be chosen. It’s a struggle for him to understand this.
Both kids took cameras with them and snapped a few photos of Chris and his band while they performed. Chrissy was bopping along with the music. During most of the concert, CodyÂ sat there very still and was taking everything in. When Chris’s bow broke, he walked out into the audience. I knew he was going to give it to someone. In the back of my mind, I was thinking “Uh oh” and looked at Cody. Sure enough, his face was lit up and he was really excited. Well, things didn’t work out the way he wanted. Chris gave the broken bow to a little girl wearing a “Higbilly Nation” shirt a row up from us. Cody was devastated and started crying. I hugged him and explained to him that he can’t be picked every time.
I was very proud when he pulled himself together within a few minutes. Chris’s stagehand got him another bow and the show went on. They played for over two hours. At the end of the show, Chris grabs his t-shirt cannon. A lot of performers use this nowadays. They basically look like bazookas and are stuffed with t-shirts. He shot one out in the crowd Â towards us. It landed four rows in front of us. Cody started getting upset. He reloaded and shot another one out on the other side of the crowd. I could just feel Cody ramping up. The anxiety just radiates off his body. Chris reloaded again. This time, when he shot it, he aimed at us. Well, we were sitting under a tent that Cabela’s had set up in case of rain. Guess where the shirt went? Yep, right on top of the tent. Cody started bawling.
I was sitting there trying to console him and to explain again that he just can’t always be picked and that he will be okay. At that point, the little girl who was sitting four rows in front of us stood up to leave. She had caught the first shirt. She said something to her mom and walked back to Cody and gave him her shirt. I started crying. Cody and I thanked her so much. As she walked away, I asked Cody if he realized what a special thing she had done for him. I also told him that she didn’t have to do it.
One of Chris’s stagehands and the Cabela’s organizer took a bucket truck over next to the edge of the tent and went up to get the shirt that had landed right in the middle of the tent. When they came down, I was waiting. As the stagehand got out of the bucket, I asked if I could talk to him for a moment. I explained what the little girl had done for our son and asked if there was any way possible that he could give her the shirt he just rescued. He smiled and said “Absolutely. Which one is she?” I pointed her out and he walked over to her and put the shirt around her neck and said “This one is YOURS.” She was grinning ear to ear.
I walked over to her and her family and told her that what she had done was so selfless and giving and that I was very proud of her. She gave me a hug and thanked me. I told her mom and dad that they had a fine young lady and they should be very proud. They thanked me too.
We went over to get photos with Chris and Cody wanted him to autograph his shirt. The little girl was right in front of us in line. So I told Chris what she had done for Cody. Chris hugged her and said he would be proud to sign her shirt. When it was our turn, Chris asked Cody if he “Survived the Higbee T-shirt Cannon” like the front of the shirt says. Cody said no. Chris laughed and then Cody told him again how the girl gave him her shirt. Chris told him it was his lucky day and that he was going to sign it for him.
I took photos of him signing the shirt for Cody and a photo of my husband with Chris. Chrissy decided to choose that few moments to play shy and wouldn’t go up to him for a picture. (*sigh*)
I walked up to Chris and thanked him for taking his time with us.Â I explained the issues that Cody deals with. He told me that any time we are at one of his shows to let him know and he would make sure Cody and Chrissy got something. I told him he didn’t have to do that. He just grinned that grin at me and said he knew, but he wanted to. He put his arm around me and said “Thank you. For coming to the show and everything.” Â Yep, I got teary-eyed again.
I have liked and respected Chris Higbee as a musician for some time now, but Saturday, he earned my respect as a person. Such a kind and caring man. Â And I made some new friends that day too. As we were walking away, I saw the little girl’s mom standing over by the table where Cabela’s was giving out refreshments. I asked Ben to take the kids. I walked over to her and thanked her again. She said her daughter told her that she wanted to make Cody happy since he was so upset that he didn’t get a shirt. I told her about Cody’s autism and ADHD and told her that he just doesn’t understand and can’t cope with not being chosen and that we are working on that. She smiled at me and said her daughter has some of the same problems. She completely took me by surprise when she said that. Â I gave her a hug and told her that she and her daughter are very special, amazing people and that I felt blessed to have met them. She thanked me for getting her daughter the rescued shirt.
We may never meet again, but that one child will always be remembered by our family for her completely selfless act. And it gives me hope that perhaps, one day, my son will pay it forward to another child in a similar way. And that, my friends, is priceless.