Mother's loss turns to desire to make a difference - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

Mother's loss turns to desire to make a difference


In her East Montgomery home Shirley Townsend gazes at the photograph of her son who left this life too soon.

"He's gone to Heaven. He could have done so much more," said Townsend. 

Jonah Townsend died 4 years ago this month in a one-car wreck outside his military base in El Paso, Texas. He was 23. 

"Jonah was a kind soul and loved baseball," said his mother. 

That love of the game brought Townsend to the city ball fields behind Seth Johnson Elementary School in South Montgomery. The Dixie Youth Baseball league will begin its new season in April. For the second year in a row, Ms. Townsend will sponsor a team, meaning she'll pay $350 out of her own pocket for the uniforms, in honor of Jonah. 

"When you lose a child, you lose your heart. It makes your heart come alive when you think of something you can do to honor his name," she explained. 

Coach Mike Smith knew Jonah, watched him grow up and play on the diamonds in Montgomery. Smith remembers Jonah giving the game and life all he had, the very lesson Jonah's mom wants to instill to little league players. 

Jonah was active duty Army and earned several medals including his service in Iraq, a National Defense Medal and Army Achievement Medal. 

"She's got that character to step out and do something," said Smith. 

"I want the kids to know somebody cares for them," said Townsend. 

Shirley Townsend finds healing in what she's doing for the little leaguers, and the fact she's trying to make a difference she gets the feeling her son is not that far away. 

"I believe Jonah is looking down on the kids and smiling and says 'Mom.. thank you! He was born to play this game," said Townsend. 

And much like her son, Shirley Townsend was born to make a difference.

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