When 9-year-old Sophina Lindquist satisfied the University of Nebraska at Kearney softball team, it was love at first sight.
The team was in Sophina’s hometown of St. Cloud, Minnesota, for an away game and happened to stop at the Red Robin where Sophina and their own families were feeing.
She was immediately enamored with them, and apparently the impression was mutual.
“We see this little blond daughter in the vestibule, and instantly there was a connection, ” recollects head coach Holly Carnes.
In fact, they liked her so much, they devoted her a ball that the entire squad had signed. Sophina promptly expended the rest of the day and the night cuddling with it.
It wasn’t simply Sophina’s smile that won over the team. She exudes light and generosity even though she’s had to deal with quite a lot for someone so young.
Before she was 5 months old, Sophina had six surgeries, including open-heart surgery. She was also diagnosed with Down disorder, a genetic disorder that can affect a person’s mental and physical development.
However , none of these medical issues seem to have had any consequence whatsoever on her strength of spirit.
“She’s tough as nails, ” says her mom, Connie.
“Children with special needs are just like all the other children who have strengths and weaknesses, ” Connie continues.
And some of Sophina’s strengths are that she is extremely friendly and outgoing. She regularly bakes cookies for first responders in her hometown, and she knows almost all of them, in over 20 departments, by name.
That’s also why Sophina was so determined to visit her new softball squad friends — but regrettably, their own families couldn’t afford to stimulate the trip-up from Minnesota to Nebraska.
That’s when Red Robin stepped in.
They were so taken with her tale that the company decided to arrange for her to take a trip to see her favorite dames in blue in action.
And she wasn’t just going to see the last game of the season; Sophina was going to toss out the first pitch.
The trip was a treat for the whole family, who had never been able to take a vacation together before then.
According to her mom, Sophina couldn’t contain her exhilaration over getting to hang with her favorite players again. And, according to their coach, the UNK Lopers felt the same way.
“Oh my gosh, they have been talking about it all week, ” Carnes tells.
When the reunion finally happened, it was quite the emotional explosion.
Sophina really got to feel like one of the team.
And, of course, toss out her very first ball in a college game.
It’s likely to be a day she won’t soon forget.
Sophina’s disability isn’t holding her back. She goes after her dreams at full speed.
“People can set children with Down syndrome into this square box, and there really is no square box for children with special requires, ” Connie explains.
Different levels of ability shouldn’t separate one group of people from another. Differences can build us stronger, extraordinary someones, and the more people who recognize that, the sooner that so-called “box” will disappear.
Learn more about Sophina’s adventure with the UNK softball team here :