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The Press Democrat, Santa Rosa, Calif., Chris Smith column

The Press Democrat - 8/23/2018

Aug. 23--When Brice Glattfelder was about 3 years old, his mother was warned that he might never tie his own shoes.

He was 10 when he learned despite his autism to tie his shoes, but he did learn. Educating and life-skills training come slowly to Brice, whose avid interests include football, garbage cans and cement trucks.

For his last birthday, his 16th, his mother Katie said, "All he wanted was a bag of cement, and that's what he got."

There is something else that he's wanted.

Months ago, Brice, who's now 6-foot-6 and 300 pounds, told Katie he knew it probably couldn't happen for somebody like him, but he wanted to go out for his school's football team.

Katie encouraged him to go for it. Brice, who's grown up with little confidence and no friends, went out for Montgomery High's Vikings.

Coach Vertis Patton brought him onto the junior varsity team. Amid the first game Friday, against Petaluma High, Brice beamed joy as he took the field as a defensive lineman.

Up in the stands, his mother bubbled over with pride.

And gratitude. Katie Glattfelder said it's astounding how kind and encouraging everybody is being to Brice.

Suddenly, in his free time, Brice can't get enough of kicking footballs off a tee. Now that he's on the team he's focused on a new goal: to become the Vikings' punter.


What a time 13-year-old Kailee Diaz-Randall of Santa Rosa had at the Little League World Series in Pennsylvania.

The shy kid with a searing fastball, hot bat and consuming love of the game was flown there by Little League Baseball to receive its national Good Sport of the Year award.

Now back at Slater Middle School, Kailee answered as you'd suspect when asked what she enjoyed most about the trip:

"I think the best part was watching the kids play."

Kailee's mom and brother and near-mythical coach, John Perry of the Westside A's, were with her when she took the field before TV cameras and a great crowd to receive her award.

Coach Perry said from Williamsport, "When I was out there standing next to her, I was so proud of her.

"It was neat seeing (on the giant scoreboard) her name and Santa Rosa, California."


Dogs in jail: Days ago, several unspeakably adorable puppies arrived at their temporary home within the fence of the Sonoma County Jail's satellite detention center near the county airport.

The dogs are there to work. There will be cuddle and play time, but the dogs are in jail to receive from inmates their initial training as service animals for people with disabilities.

Shortly before the puppies arrived from Bergin College of Canine Studies, four older dogs departed the North County Detention Center following a graduation ceremony. Seven inmates demonstrated at the celebration all they'd taught the dogs to do: flip light switches, nudge and comfort someone who exhibits signs of anxiety, pick up dropped items, open cupboards, go for help for a handler who's been stricken.

Inmates told of how working with the dogs gives their lives new purpose.


(c)2018 The Press Democrat (Santa Rosa, Calif.)

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