Voices of Diversity: He's Just Jon-Jon
CEDAR RAPIDS, IA (CBS2/FOX28) - In Cedar Rapids, America's favorite pastime has 25 baseball players.
"Jon's number 26," Bob Teig, Jon Teig's father, said.
Jon Teig, or Jon-Jon, as many call him, has been the Cedar Rapid's Kernel's batboy for more than 10 years. He grew up loving one sport.
"Baseball," he said. "Just baseball."
Once you know Jon-Jon, you'll realize that's what defines him.
"People will say Jon is autistic," Bob said. "Jon isn't autistic. Jon has autism."
But having autism never stopped him from knocking life out of the park, thanks to his parents.
"Bob and I didn't see Jon as disabled," mom Karen Teig said. "It's not a disability. It's his ability and just learning differently."
Jon will tell you he's able to do everything.
"I pick up the bats, help out the empires and chase all the balls by the ballpen," he said.
From a young age, Bob and Karen Teig stood up to those who said Jon couldn't do anything. Karen remembers getting angry after a teacher did that once.
"She said, I told Jon if he did it again, I would wash out his mouth with soap, and so I said, okay, you better be prepared to do it," she said.
Right now, Jon lives the life he wants - he works at Scheels and also has his own bobblehead sponsored by the company. He's even been integrated into several classes through the University of Iowa's REACH program.
Making sure Jon reached his full potential was a family affair.
"Every so often he would say he couldn't do something and I would say no, you really can, you're just being lazy and later on he would do it," Alex, his brother, said.
Bob credits Jon's success to people he calls guardian angels, like Susan Lagos Lavenz, who was his teacher at Grant Wood and through REACH.
"Because one might be typecasted into a particular group does not limit the parameters of where that person can go," Lagos Lavenz said.
His baseball coach also said the same thing.
"Jon was one of the players," coach Randy Mathews said. "I knew he, his family, wanted him to be treated like one of them. He always gave great effort. He loved the sport. He worked hard."
That love carried on to the Veteran's Memorial Stadium.
"I love being part of the baseball team," Jon said.
Life can be a little surprising when you throw away any doubts. That's just life. That's just everyday.
"Baseball," Jon said. "Just baseball."
That's just Jon-Jon.