View Full Version : X-Factor makes one Xmas merry

12-21-2004, 02:27 AM
Another heart warming Jo Po piece!

There is no look on earth quite like the look of a child walking into his or her favorite store. I see that look whenever my daughter, Elizabeth, goes into the Disney Store at the mall. She doesn't have to get anything — most of the time she doesn't get anything.

Her eyes light up when she walks into that place.

That was the look in the eyes of five kids on Monday. The girls had that look in their eyes when they went into the Disney Store. The boys had that look when they went into Champs Sports to buy sneakers. They all had the look in the Build-A-Bear Workshop, where the woman told them each to hold the toy heart tight, make a wish, and then stuff it inside their own teddy bears.

“This bear is for me?” the youngest girl, Shannteria Robinson, asked Dante Hall.

“All yours,” Dante said.

I'm a sucker for these stories. Monday I followed around Chiefs star Dante Hall and his mother, Carolyn. Dante had decided that for this holiday season, he wanted to use a bit of his fame and money to help a special single mother. Dante Hall was raised by a single mother himself.

“I know how hard it is for a single mom to keep her kids out of trouble,” he would say.

He and Carolyn looked for just the right family. They heard so many heart-wrenching stories — single mothers who have to work two jobs to keep things going, mothers without cars who walk an hour to and from their jobs, mothers who work in restaurants so they can bring home food.

“So many people need help in this world,” Carolyn says.

And then, through Operation Breakthrough, they met Alice Smith. She is 82 years old. Alice is a great, great grandmother — yes, two “greats” — who heard that the state was going to take her great, great grandchildren away from their mother. The state had no choice but to split up the kids. Alice stepped in. She took them in. The children are age 7 through 12. She gets $398 per month from the state to raise those five kids. Somehow, they survive.

So, on Monday, Dante and Carolyn Hall went to pick up the family in a limo. When he came out, the kids recognized him at once. “Dante!” they all screamed, and they ran up to him and hugged him. Kids love to hug Dante Hall. Then, they all piled into the limousine and headed to Oak Park Mall.

“What is it you really, really want for Christmas?” Dante asked them.

“Shoes,” one said.

“A coat,” said another.

At the mall, there were television cameras and reporters and a few adoring fans elbowing each other and saying, “Look, look, look, that's Dante Hall!”

The kids did not seem distracted. At one point, a little boy wearing Dante Hall's No. 82 and his father stood nearby. They had, by pure coincidence, just bought a Dante Hall poster.

“Dante, Dante,” Brittny shouted. She's 10. “Don't forget to sign that little boy's poster!”

The girls bought some Disney Princess stuff. Dante went in search of an Xbox video game (or PlayStation 2, the kids weren't picky). Everybody got new shoes. The boys each got Elmo bears. Coats were purchased. The whole family got to meet Santa, who came back from his lunch break 10 minutes early to spend a little time with them (and get a few Dante Hall autographs — Santa is a big Dante Hall fan). They ate pizza at the Rainforest Cafe. At one point, Alice mentioned that the kids needed underwear, socks, thermals. Carolyn said she would take care of it.

On the way home, they stopped and picked up a Christmas ham.

“What beautiful shoes you have,” someone told Shannteria on her way out the door.

Shannteria rolled up her pants to reveal her pink shoes. “They are new,” she said.

Yes, athletes can do so much good, if they have it inside. So many athletes have money, fame and a certain entry into the hearts of kids that teachers and counselors and friends might not have. Kids look up to them Adults admire them. They can do so much.

No, Dante Hall did not change the world on Monday. But he and his mother did make a difference in a family's life. They brightened the eyes of a few kids who have not had many breaks in their lives.

And then, they saw a great, great grandmother's eyes light up once too. It was right when they picked her up. She looked out to the street.

“Finally after all these years,” Alice said, “I get to ride in a limo.”

To reach Joe Posnanski, call (816) 234-4361 or send e-mail to jposnanski@kcstar.com. For previous columns, go to KansasCity.com.