Carterville’s “Magic Johnson”
I’ve decided (after some serious consideration) to start a weekly blog highlighting people in my community who are doing good things. All too often the news and social media are filled with what’s wrong with the world. So each Tuesday I’m going to highlight what’s right in my neck of the woods.
The first person I’m recognizing with this new GratiTuesday project is Gail Johnson. We met Gail shortly after moving to southern Illinois in 2004. She and her husband Jeff have two kids, Justin and Jaycie. Justin and our oldest son Ethan were in the same kindergarten class and played baseball together. That’s how we met. Jaycie and our daughter Brooke are also in the same grade. They have been best friends pretty much their entire lives.
But even if I didn’t know Gail, I would still know who she is. For years she has been a mom to many in Carterville. Whether it’s through football, basketball, baseball, cheer or softball (and much more) Gail is the loudest cheerleader. And she’s not just rooting for her own kids. She’s pulling for every athlete or performer.
This past fall Gail led the way for the senior football moms. That included weekly team dinners that she helped to organize with assistance from several other mothers on the team. Giant paw prints with the numbers (and names) of players appear along the busy road leading to the high school. That’s another task the senior moms tackle each season (pun intended).
She was on the sidelines at each game snapping hundreds of photos of our boys in action. But not just the kids on the football field. Gail captured moments that the band was playing and the cheerleaders rallying the fans. Her quality photos make any iPhone pics we took during the season pale in comparison. Gail’s compansion for Carterville Lions Athletics continues into the winter months, following the basketball team. There too, you’ll find her courtside, documenting the actions of the team. She’s getting those moments we as fans (parents) don’t always see either.
When she’s not supporting her kids and their friends and teammates, Gail is helping welcome new lives into the world as a neonatal and pediatric nurse. I have more than one friend who had never met Gail prior, comment to me about how awesome their nurse was during labor and delivery. Her caring attitude and big heart know no bounds.
She (and Jeff) have helped us more than once when it comes to juggling the schedules of three busy kids. Gail also stepped up and supported our family during some hectic times, including my mom’s journey with cancer last year. I’m proud to call Gail a friend. She’s a positive influence not only on our family but the community as well.
I am a journalist with more than 20 years of experience and a professional blogger. I have been writing for most of my adult life. I have clients in several states and look forward to writing something for you soon.