Arc Night at the Stingers Game was held last night. We were able to get tickets at a reduced cost for families and adults who have a connection with Arc due to the generous donations by Bremer Bank, Owens & Co, Floor to Ceiling Store, Walt’s Soft Cloth Carwash and Law Office of Tejeda Guzman. This provided families and individuals with a chance to see a WINNING Stingers game, meet players, get signatures, door prizes provided by the Stingers and Walt’s, have supper and enjoy the beautiful weather.
What does this have to do with Arc? I was sitting there, enjoying the game with my husband, my son and his two roommates. I watched many many people walk by our group of 75 people. Many of them knew someone in the group and stopped to talk with them. Others yelled a hello and smiled. The rest walked by with very few stares or looks or anything that would be construed as being uncomfortable. That’s what Willmar has become. As a small town, we have learned to welcome diversity. I remember as a high school student talking to my dad who had some arguments when he stood up for the young college students living in Willmar who were black. He was asked, “Would you ever let them date your daughter?” My dad answered “yes”. We moved on to the movement of the people with disabilities then living at Willmar State Hospital coming into the community to live, work and go to our schools. The Hmongs were the next to come. Then many Hispanic families looking for a place to live moved to our community. Finally the Somali’s and other cultures. Was it an easy road? Not for everyone. Has Willmar overcome many prejudices and moved forward? Definitely. We all have a ways to go yet, but when I experienced the feeling of belonging for our group last night at the Stingers Game, I think we can do it.