Over the Fourth of July weekend, Jo Dee Messina made one special fan’s heart burst like a celebratory firework. While Jo Dee was in Charleston for the Red, White, and Blue Days concert, the country music icon met the 2015 Special Olympics Illinois Athlete of the Year, Brooke Ingram.
Rather than a quick meet-and-greet with the athlete, Jo Dee sat down and took time to get to know the beautiful person behind the title. Brooke, with whom Jo Dee spent over twenty minutes, despite other fans hoping to snap a photo with one of their favorites, was on the receiving end of the kindhearted artist’s inquiries about her life. Jo Dee, who is typically the interviewee, took on the role of interviewer (on her own volition), asking Brooke about her Special Olympics experiences, hobbies, and plans for the summer; all questions which Brooke eagerly answered, even though she was a little mesmerized by the Grammy nominee who sat before her.
Jo Dee did answer one particular question, which brought a smile to her bright face — how did she become involved with the Special Olympics?
I was just driving outside of Nashville one day and saw the Special Olympics event signs along the road, so I started to follow. When I finally came to the event, they needed volunteers for the day, so I got involved.
By “getting involved,” Jo Dee means she became an official ambassador of the Special Olympics in 2004, providing support to the athletes, and participating in certain events.
Attendees of Charleston’s Fourth of July event who witnessed Jo Dee’s encounter with Brooke described it as “true compassion and authenticity,” as well as “not only impressive, but awe-inspiring.” These are all adjectives we would immediately choose when speaking of Jo Dee, and it doesn’t surprise us in the slightest that she acted in such a wonderful way. Touch us? Yes. Surprise us? No.