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Chris Johnson

join the discussion: What are your reactions and thoughts after viewing Country Boys?  What most struck you about the struggles of Chris Johnson and Cody Perkins --  two boys  coming of age in eastern Kentucky's Appalachian hills?

Note: This opportunity extends through Friday night, January 13, 2006. FRONTLINE cannot promise to post every question sent in to Chris, but we will do our best to represent the range of viewers' questions and comments.

Dear Chris,

Chris, Based on all the e-mail support I've read, I'm only one of many people who believes you are a great person. I wish I'd been there when you wanted to start a school newspaper. I'm a retired reporter and I'd have loved to help you. You shouldn't be so hard on yourself for things you couldn't change.

I hope when you look in the mirror you see what the rest of America saw watching this film -- a young man with a big heart, a young man who has survived some pretty tough odds. If they gave gold medals or Nobel prizes for survival, you'd win. You can always go back to school and learn the stuff that's in books, and you should, but what you already know about life is priceless. Thank you for sharing this with the rest of us.

Margaret Ludington
Altoona, Iowa

Dear Chris,

Dear Chris, Two weeks have passed since the airing of your story, so I am not sure that you will receive this. Along with many people who have already written, your story has stayed with me. You remind me of a grandson who lived with me for three years while he was in high school, I home schooled him for 1 1/2 years. He had many of the challenges and problems that you dealt with.

Chris, you have many strengths; you can deal with adult problems, you remain upbeat through things that would put many people down, but to me your greatest strength is your skill at communicating and your use of the English language. I will be thinking of you and rooting you on. If you have a community college near you, please enroll in at least one class now, you don't know how easy it is to get out of the habit of doing school work and attending school. Best wishes to you, Joyce Miller

Joyce Miller

Dear Chris,

Dear Chris,

My name is Dave Ide, I'm in my mid to late 30's, I live in Massachusetts, and I caught the whole PBS Countyboys episode on Sunday January 15th, 2006. I was litterally glued to my television for the full 6 hours of Countryboys. Of all the reality television that I have watched over the years, your life story has had the biggest impact on me as I can relate to your story in so many ways.

Chris, you are brilliant with some of the simple "one liners" you said while the cameras where rolling. Out of all the quick well thought and sincere things you talked about, the one that made the biggest impact on me was when you made the simple comment to your classmate "I'm known for being seen.......but not heard". That comment is so true to so many and really stuck to me. I haven't been able to get that comment out of my head, and I can absolutely relate to that. Right up until I was a senior in the 12th grade I was real quiet, kept a lot of things to myself, feeling transparent to everyone, etc.... Even today I am still like that...

You have touched the hearts of millions Chris. Thank you for letting America bring you into our livingrooms. It must be bizarre getting emails from so many strangers like myself whom have watched just a small portion of your life. I give you all my best Chris. If I can be of any help, don't hesitate to give me a holler.

Dave ide

p.s. Remember, The only stupid question is a question not asked.

David ide
Framingham, Massachusetts

Dear Chris,

Dear Chris,

Please let us know what you are doing as there are many of us who are very interested in seeing you make more good decisions for your life. Don't allow yourself to get depressed and just sit there on the front porch and wait for life to pass you by.

vangie Benson
Van Buren, OH

Dear Chris,

Chris,

Your best bet is to GET OUT OF KENTUCKY!!!! I'm not saying that KY is a bad place (I went to basic training in KY and loved it)

I was once a troubled teen that didn't give a damn about anything. I joined the Army (I understand the Army is a different entity these days and I'm not a recruiter, so this is not a commercial for them) The Army got me out of a routine and put me into a different one. You should go to college. It seems there are plenty of people ready to foot the bill so why not.

Give it a try. Its scary as hell but you never know.

Good luck

Larry Maxwell
Orting, Wa

Dear Chris,

I agree with the filmmaker. Of all the kids shown at the David school, Chris stood out. Quietly from the corner, he out-shone everyone else. He was incredibly articulate, earnest, and so obviously a decent human being, despite being raised with a horrible home life. He so desperately needs someone to love him. It's wrenching. I do hope he can overcome his self destructive impulses. At times, he seemed to purposely sabotage himself, almost as if he was afraid of success.

I was turned off by the obsession with religion shown in the documentary. Sure, it beats alcohol and drugs. But instead of turning to God for all the answers, if half the energy was devoted to political action or community building, these folks would be better off. I hope the Frontline community pulls together and gets a vehicle for Chris and helps him fund a college education. Please, Chris, don't try to go to college and work a full time job. There will be plenty of time for working after you graduate from college. You only get opportunities like this once. Please capitalize on your good fortune and don't blow it. Chris, I really feel for you and wish I could have been there to lend a helping hand when you needed it. Those girls at the David School are fools for ignoring you!

Anne Gunn

Dear Chris,

Hi Chris, I will get straight to the point. Your voice really projects well through TV and I imagine radio. It is a rare gift. I would strongly recommend that you look into TV/radio announcing, voice-overs and reading for "books on tape" (as for the blind). That is, if such a job interests you. Good luck.

Jay Harding
Seattle, Washington

Dear Chris,

You have overcome a lot to get to where you are today. You have a brilliant mind and I hope you get all you deserve in life. You have a very good friend in Jay. I'm glad you have someone you can talk to.

I grew up in poverty; my father was also an alcoholic. It's tough, but you've got to look past that and live your life for yourself (which it seems that you are). Thanks for sharing your inspiring story with the world. I hope we hear more from you in the future.

Tomi Stronge

Dear Chris,

I was captivated watching your life and actually simultaneously watching you grow thru those adverse circumstances which for me has significance. Your task before you is making or breaking you. And the difference is you want more out of Life! and you have alot of support around encouraging you to go get it. As someone said to you " you have to want it".Your's is proof positive to me that one who struggles and never gives up ,reaches goals, appreciates life alot more. I see kids that have everything and still don't want nothing. But dont try to do everything and take on too much.

Fred Irvin
New York, New York

Dear Chris,

Dear Chris,

Even though I am a 35-year-old woman, I found common ground with your story and could empathize with your struggles and victories. I came from a difficult childhood and after high school, I had no hope for college- no money and no help from my family. I worked hard at low-wage jobs for a long time until I began to build up experience that qualified me for better jobs.I was finally able to begin my college education 2 years ago, at age 33, which is a dream come true for me. That is how I know that the dream of going to college is never lost - though it might be delayed for some of us.

My best friend is a 35-year old guy who overcame substance abuse problems, family problems and homelessness. Through sheer hard work and persistance, he is now a successful software engineer and owns a beautiful home. It took him 17 years. I know that may seem like forever, but he will tell you it was worth it to keep working toward his dreams.

That is how I know for sure that you will make it, Chris. It may just take a few years longer than you would like it to, but if you keep working toward your goals, even taking small steps at a time, eventually you will succeed. Just be patient with yourself- the process can take time, as frustrating as it seems. But the payoff in the end is worth it and you will be a wiser person for having taken the journey.

My favorite saying is, "Just keep putting one foot after the other and keep climbing until there is no more mountain."

Stephanie
Seattle, WA

Dear Chris,

Dear Chris,

I would just like to let you know what am impact this series and your story have had upon me. I am 30 years old, married and live in about 30 minutes from New York City. I would like to know since the Epilogue if any new opportunities have arose, if you have decided to move, return to college? As I watched teh events of your life unfold, I imagined myself in your position when I was that age, and was reduced to tears. For such a young man, you kept yourself together so well, emotionally and socially. I comend you on all of this, and hope you all the luck in your endeavors. It may be hard for you to realize, but you have so much potential and so much to offer the world, please do not sell yourself short. Although you may not think there is anyone out there rooting for Chris, there is!

Good Luck,I hope to hear from you.

Sincerely,Amy

Amy Falzarano

Dear Chris,

Hello Chris,

I was struck by your enthusiasm when you got the outline for the school newspaper done. Your drive and commitment to getting things done is phenominal in my view. My prayer for you is that you will use your drive and commitment to follow your bliss. To me "bliss" is defined as doing what you were created for by your creator and mine GOD.

Pray you will summon the courage and drive to do what GOD has willed for you,

Sajiv Sarin
Shrewsbury, MA

Dear Chris,

Hi Chris,

It has been over a week since I saw the documentary and as the Mother of 4 (3 boys) I am so concerned about a parent's role in their son's development. My question(s) for you is when was the last time you saw or talked with your Mother? What are your hopes for a family of your own. What role will you take with your own children and what will you expect of the mother of your future children?

I feel that this documentary is the second most important experience in your life-the MOST important experience will be raising your children in a happy, healthy home and breaking the cycle your siblings are likly to continue.

Thank you in advance,

Stacy Tyo-Bartlett
Newport, New Hampshire

Dear Chris,

Chris......your honesty and determination inspires me greatly. I am currently finishing college while working full time. It's hard and some of my classes have been phisicaly and emotionaly draining, but like you,I've hung in there. You see, I'm a recovering alcoholic and former homeless drug addict.I was abused by my mother and 3 older brothers.My alcoholic father absent. A high school drop with a police record,I became an abuser myself thus distroying any chances of ever having a family of my own.I've also spent a conciderable amount of time in jail in six different counties in two different states .A real mess. However.....because of UNSELFISH PEOPLE LIKE YOU sharing ther stories I've learned to turn my life around 180 degrees.I will never forget you. And Chris, I'll be turning 50 in September. So remember, NEVER NEVER NEVER give up on yourself. You have helped more people than you will ever know.

Kevin
Visalia, Ca

Dear Chris,

I was looking thru the TV channels to find something to watch the first night that the show about you and Cody was on and it was so good. I have not been able to get you off my mind, and want you to know that you are in my prayers and I wonder how you are now doing? Keep your head up and have faith that you can do and accomplish all your dreams.

Ann Newman
Craig, Co

Dear Chris,

you keep your chin up you remind me of my husband and his family.dont worry about school so much live life and have fun.you are awesome.....i hope you have a great life,,,,,

loralee grotton
montville, maine

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posted jan. 9, 2006

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