...And A Little Child Shall Lead Them: Meet Colton Lockner
"Hmmm...the Force is strong with this one..."I don't know about you, O faithful ones...but I can think of a lot of "grownups" who could learn a thing or two about leadership from THIS little giant-killer:
--- Darth Vader
SEBRING, Ohio, Aug. 3, 2006 – If Colton Lockner’s summer project is any indication of his future success, his name is one everyone should remember.
Colton, 9, has taken it upon himself to organize this small village’s first America Supports You Freedom Walk, a move that surprised no one who knows the slight boy.
"You don’t expect this from a 9-year-old kid," former local elementary school principal Vito Weeda said. "We look for great things for Colton because of the type of person he is."
Colton’s mother agrees that her son, who has no problem talking business with adults only to turn around and jump into the pool or play soccer with his brothers, is unique.
"That’s just Colton," Robyn Lockner, his mother, said. "Colton’s always wanting to organize something."
America Supports You is a nationwide Defense Department program that highlights grassroots and corporate support of the nation’s servicemembers. ASY Freedom Walks are intended to commemorate the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and honor U.S. troops.
I flim-flam you not, friends...this short man did damn near ALL the legwork himself. He talked businesses into sponsoring the event and donating food and other goods, posted flyers, placed donation cans, and even brought Sebring Mayor John Smith into the loop:
"(The walk) is to honor (servicemembers) and thank them for what they’re doing for our country and to remember the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11," Colton said. "We’re trying to get it to be an every-year thing, like a permanent holiday."
Sebring Mayor John Smith said Colton has his backing on that idea.
John Pappas, owner of the local Pizza Pan restaurant, said he was so impressed with the way Colton conducted himself that he agreed to help him make the walk happen.
"He was a little man walking in," Pappas said. Though he’d not met Colton before, he listened to his pitch to put a donation can in the eatery. Not only did Pappas agree to the can, but he talked with Colton and his mom about sponsoring the food, banners and t-shirts for the event, as well.
"We didn’t think it was going to be such a big deal," Pappas said. "We thought there were going to be 50, 75 people (participating in the walk)."
His commitment hasn’t wavered as the numbers have climbed, though. In fact, he’s upped the ante by offering all walkers who pre-register a certificate for a free large pizza.
"This is small-town America and this little man … is what it’s all about," Pappas said. "My hat’s off to little Colton. He really got a lot of people together."
Heh..."Little" man, indeed.Stand to attention, y'all...there's a TALL man walkin' heah.
(Tip o' the rock to my new HE neighbor and fellow Mountaineer, Uncle Mac Is Pissed. Welcome to the family.)