Elizabeth, John D, ASDA President, Donna Waugh, and several team members met for lunch at a local dog-friendly restaurant, Cheers in the Heights. Elizabeth shared her experience from the tornados—the partial destruction of her home, the loss of her neighborhood, and even the disappearance and RETURN of her beloved pet. As she recounted her stories and those of her friends and community, ASDA members were in awe of the resilience Joplin residents showed in the aftermath of the F5 tornado.
ASDA presented Elizabeth two gifts to honor their Joplin connection. The first was a blue washcloth. While in Joplin, residents who had lost everything were still eager to try and help rescue workers. When they had nothing at all and so much to worry about for themselves, they managed to find washcloths, which they wetted and gave to the dogs to keep them cool. The second was a miniature John D and soccer ball trinket.
The legacy of the flat soccer ball:
ASDA’s K9 Search and Rescue team had been called to Joplin to assist in finding victims. Devastation was everywhere and there was nothing left for miles. As we searched piles of collapsed homes and remnants of lives forever interrupted, the impact of there being nothing left hit our search team full force.
We took a break to face the reality that there was nothing left. We sat on the curb, hot, sad, and feeling helpless. How do you even begin to rebuild after everything is gone? How would Joplin recover?
John D surveyed our team. He picked up a flat soccer ball, also a victim of the tornado, and brought it back to where we sat. And then, with a flip of his head, he tossed it to us.
The message was clear: "If all you have is a flat soccer ball, then you play flat soccer. And it will be okay." And he was right. When you are faced with what seems like total hopelessness, you have to learn to see hope differently. You learn to see the possibilities from what you do have, rather than what is now lost. And you make do with a flat soccer ball because that is all you have.
Thank you, Elizabeth, for your visit! Your love and support is all the reward we need to continue in the work we do. You’ve given us hope as well!