Editor's note: This article was originally published on Nov. 9, 2012. In light of David. L Beck's reference to Carson Jones in his April 2013 Priesthood session talk for general conference, we are sharing this story again.
To Carson Jones and his teammates on the Queen Creek High School football team in Arizona, it was no big deal.
They befriended a sophomore girl with special needs in an effort to protect her from bullies.
Even so, few could have predicted how the details of their small kindness would reach the national media, be translated into foreign languages and warm countless hearts. Their actions have certainly made a difference in their school and community.
"These are great kids. They stand for what is great and they try to do the right thing," said Joe Germaine, head football coach at Arizona's Queen Creek High and a former Ohio State and NFL quarterback. "Because of what they have done for this young lady, a lot of attention has come to it, but I don’t think they have let that overshadow the fact that they just tried to do the right thing in the right situation. I think they need to be applauded for what they’ve done."
At the beginning of this school year, a concerned mother, Elizabeth Johnson, asked Jones, the Bulldogs' starting quarterback, to track down the names of some students who were bullying her daughter, Chy Johnson, who suffers from a brain disorder. The bullies were calling her daughter names and throwing trash at her.
Jones, a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, started to investigate the matter until a better opportunity presented itself. One day he saw Johnson in the cafeteria and invited her to sit with his group. She accepted. As they visited, Johnson soon felt right at home with "her boys."
"It (confronting the bullies) probably would have created more problems than it would have solved," Jones said. "(Inviting her over) wasn't something I put a lot of thought into. It just worked out. She is always laughing and fun to be with. Now everybody knows Chy. They probably wouldn’t know her as well if this didn’t happen."
As their friendship deepened, Jones and his teammates took turns walking Johnson to class and looking out for her in the halls. No thought was paid to how it might affect their "social status."
In turn, Johnson, a much happier person, became the team's biggest fan. When Queen Creek played on Friday nights, Johnson proudly displayed her school colors and waved signs in the bleachers.
With her daughter's spirit renewed, Elizabeth Johnson was overwhelmed with gratitude for the team's thoughtfulness.
Rondalee Jones, Carson's mother, didn't find out for months. It wasn't until she learned the Arizona State Legislature had plans to honor her son and others for helping Johnson that she became aware of the situation.
"At first I was irritated that he didn't tell me about it," Rondalee Jones said. "But that's just not him. It wasn't a big deal to him to do it."
It was only a matter of time until the story got out into the media. The story has been featured on ESPN by famous sportswriter Rick Reilly, CNN, the New York Daily News and the Huffington Post, among others.
Rondalee Jones was not surprised by her third son's actions. She describes Carson as a leader and peacemaker who discourages criticism and disrespecting others. He is active in his LDS ward and loves studying the New Testament in seminary. After high school he plans to serve a mission like his older brother, who's currently in the West Indies.
Paul Reynolds, Queen Creek's athletic director, is grateful for students like Carson Jones because administrators need all the help they can get, he said.
"It’s tough for administrators or teachers to step in and catch these things and stop any kind of harassment," Reynolds said. "In this case, they did everything. They stopped the harassment, took the girl under their wing and it's been neat to see. I've learned we can all take a second look at ourselves. There is always someone around us that we can help and make feel better."
Rondalee Jones took away a similar lesson.
"All it takes is something small to make a difference in someone's life," she said. "There are a lot of people who are bullied and treated poorly in life. ... If everyone would think about something they could do to make a difference in someone’s life and make their life easier, especially teenagers, it just takes something small to turns someone’s life around and make it happy."
Carson Jones and the undefeated Bulldogs play the Thunderbird Chiefs in the Arizona state quarterfinal playoffs on Nov. 9. In addition to pursuing a state title, he hopes this story draws out positive news and inspires other students to be courageous and always do the right thing.
"There are lots of stories like this that happen all the time. They just don't get recognized like this one. Some are better than this one," the high school quarterback said in a phone interview. "But hopefully it brings out other good stories. Hopefully it helps to stop bullying around other schools."
Email: [email protected] Twitter: tbtoone