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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,

The one word to desribe my feelings while watching your story was "heartbreak". What an awful life you have had to tolerate. Despite it all you have turned out to be a remarkable young man with HUGE potential-never give up!! You are articulate and as you said in the documentary a "people" person. And you have good manners-as a mom of a teenager I appreciate that! You would be an excellent teacher or guidance counselor. Not passing the ACT test does not mean you should not try again-you can be a success!! In order to do that you must go to college-there is no option. If you do not do something soon before you know it the years will go by. Go back to the college that they showed in the documentary.

Take the ACT test again and again and again and forever as many times as it takes- I can send you a practice ACT book if you would like it. You are a good person with a good head on your shoulders!! I was especially impressed when you said that you did not want to marry until you had a college degree and a good job. You have inner strength that many people in your situation would not have. You can break the cycle of poverty by getting an education-there is no other way-GO FOR IT!!!!

kathy flannery

Dear Chris,

Dear Chris, I am truly sorry for what you are going through. Noone should have to go through something like this alone. I have been praying for you ever since the show aired, and I will continue to pray for you. Don't give up, and thank God every day for what you do have. You have to keep believing in yourself, and do not let anyone drag you down.

You are a smart and wonderful person who has so much potential. You should find a church to join that will help you long the way. If you give your life to God, your life will change for the better so fast, you wouldn't know what to think. God is the answer to everything. I hope this makes things a little better for you. God bless! F.Y.I. I am 17 yrs.old.

Florissant, MO

Dear Chris,

ChrisThe focus that you showed to overcome some very adverse situations show what great fortitude you have. I lucked in to catching the first show and was lucky to catch the after show with you and Cody and your principle who also is a very remarkable man. I truly hope that you have the ability to complete your dreams of a higher education. But still be exceptionally proud of what you have accomplished. The columnist/lawyer from the show... seemed to not understand the whole concept of your family life and its effects... I was impressed with your diplomacy and tenacity.

My mother's families are mountain people and they carry that with pride like a badge of honor that states that with a little effort and resolve there is nothing that can't be done. My mother went back and got her ged at 35 and then went on to obtain her assoc. /Greatest wishes of luck and happiness in your future

Rene'e Higginbotham
Florence, KY

Dear Chris,

My home life up until the age of 18 was very similar to yours. My mother would often leave for days and weeks at a time. My father is an alcholic. I lived in a trailer most of my teen life. Watching you made me face alot of stuff I have not felt in a long time. It also made me see what it looked like from the outside. You are a very smart young man, and this is coming from a young woman. If I can overcome poverty and put myself through law school and I'm only 23 I know you can do anything you want. I support myself alone and I know the heartache and finacial burden it is to not have your parents (who should be there) to depend on. I wish you all the luck and hope you return to college or some academic setting. Even a junior college. Please do it! All my best.....

Sumter, SC

Dear Chris,

Chris, I started watching Country Boys thinking that it was a two hour special, and got sucked in to all six hours. I credit my rapt attention to literally dying to know what happened and continues to happen to you.

I was moved to tears so many times during the film. It is very rare that a film captures the spirit of endurance that one young person can have, and Country Boys did just that by showing your enormous heart and perseverence. I know how hard it is to move "beyond" all the crummy things life has served up to you, but I have the utter confidence that you WILL do so. I hope to hear soon that you have started at college. I can't imagine any college not considering itself blessed to have you in its student body. Best of luck to you, Chris. I am pulling for you sooo much.

Karen Pickett
Boston, MA

Dear Chris,

Hi Chris,I read most of the letters that people have written to you on this site. You have obviously made an impact upon them. I too was deeply affected by your story and by you. I am 56 and I have four boys. You remind me so very much of my son, Adam. I wept because I saw in you what my son must feel at times. I was an alcoholic/drug addict. My sons had to go live with their fathers. Today we have a good relationship, I have been clean and sober for 17 years.

I too wish I could give you what you need to take the steps toward your dreams. It lies within you Chris, it is already there. Do not believe the lies of the mind. The voices that tell you you can't do this or do that. Your heart is what showed on the documentary. The gifts you have recieved already from God, your instincts, your heart and your real self with a wonderful mind, a bright and clear mind.

You have had a rough time, life has not been kind. Your parents and the people around you have not always been there for you. Think of this, you can only break a glass one time. We spend too much time reliving the breaking of the glass, over and over again in our heads.

I heard a man say one time that our brains think they are so powerful it can kill our body and keep on living.

Seek the Lord, He holds the key to the answers that lie within you. You have been given the passion to go farther, God will show you the rest. You are worth it to Him. He is serious about this. He loves you just as you are. Every bit of you, all the flaws, there is not one thing He does not already know.God put His son on a cross to tell you just this. That with all of our flaws, HE has hope for you, He will carry you through.I know there are many things that are a little scary and the unknown is frightening at times. But I know this one first hand, regret is harder to live with than any mistake you can make. "Through forgiveness the arms of Jesus lift you. His blood cleanses you, and His love changes you. It is His free gift to you turn your heat toward Jesus. Pray to recieve Him and His forgivenes by faith today... He will come into your heart and make all things new. There fore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come. 2 Cor. 5:17

Thank you Chris. You have sent a powerful message. You have touched so many. Let this be proof that you are ready to take a leap in faith.My prayers are with you and your journey.

springfield, vermont

Dear Chris,

Dear Chris,

It's been over a week and I'm still thinking about you and your situation.

I am happy to see that people want to contribute to your furthering your education.

If there is anything I can tell you from my own experience is that you can go to school, but you can't let other things and people get in your way. I did that: a job, so I could have a car, so I could get to school and work. I can see now that I put up my own obstacles and I never got past the first semester of community college. Had I done what I should have and been concentrated only on school and been a starving student, I often wonder where I would be today.

I did have some wonderful kids, who did go on to college. We all ate an awful lot of macaroni and cheese, but they both graduated and had lots of fun without alot of money.

I plan to pledge some money for you; not only for you're begining but also for however you are in school. I think many other people will do the same. I can see you sharing your wisdom and knowledge in how to treat people in any number of fields.

As I've told our kids lots of times, the sky is the limit and to reach for the stars. You are so deserving of only the best life has to offer and I hope you always remember that. Our parents, sometimes, can make us feel like we don't deserve anything, but that's not true. We all deserve to dream and do what's in our own power to make our dreams come true.

You really gave me alot to think about.

Christine Carrere Thoresen

Dear Chris,

Are you getting wonderful letters from all over the US? You are very brave and we are sending you our "parental loving" thoughts. I almost didn't make it through high school for a variety of reasons - but now, at 50, with a college degree made from going to college after work hours I know I am strong and I know I can comfort those who have walked the path. Yeah - College Chris - yeah college -yes college Chris yes go to college - it's free - imagine the money - imagine the college girls!!!

Meredith Kurz
East Setauket, New York

Dear Chris,

Hello Chris, I enjoyed the show and hope you will achieve great things in the future. While watching the show, I thought about bricklaying, plumbing, drywall, and carpentry. Any one of these skills would provide you with a bright and secure future. There is great demand for these skills. Please consider the Construction Trades as your future. DWC...

Dennis Carter
Doraville, Georgia

Dear Chris,

I was so drawn into the story, feelings and struggles, I refused to go to sleep until it was over. I have watched the rest of the series on-line today. My daughter has High Functioning Autism and also has struggles daily with her behavior and anger control.

As many other people have said in the postings before me, you do posses a magical way to make people feel what you are feeling by talking it to them. I wish you the best of luck and hope that you make it to college if that's what you want to do.

Lisa Goodman

Dear Chris,

Dear Chris---What more can I do for my dear friend-- I have had since I first came to know that the age of 15-- he was a very good basketball player -- due to his being deprived socially and economically----he had little help at home and struggled to just get through high school.---- he has a problem with math but is getting help--- he has a job-- and a girl--- he is saving money to go to college--- we stay in contact but he is a self confessed procrastinator----I could just shake him !!!!! ---- I am 78 years old and do not know how long I will be here but I sure want to help this young man any way I can-- Thank you for reading this---- I watched part 2 and will watch part 3 -- and then watch the whole program again- I will add you to my prayer list--- Blessing----

Edna Wenger

Dear Chris,

Dear chris, Hi my name is JJ. I have watched the show for the last three days. It was the most sadfull three days of the new year. i know how u now feel about ur pa passing away. My mother passed away in the early summer of 05".i really do u feel ur pain. I thought alot about wat u and i have in comen, and i realized that we have alot in comen.

You have lost ur dad and i lost my mom. I want u to know that Indiana is a very freindly state and if u want to, there r jobs up here. Chris watch this show over the last three days makes me feel like ive been threw ur life. Please do what ur heart says but if u want Idiana welcomes you.

columbus, Indiana

Dear Chris,

hey chris.

i live in north east ohio.but i am from mc dowell ky.i left there when i was 18 to find work that floyd county could not provide.i really enjoyed countrys boys.and i wish you the did the right thing by getiing a education.

i am 36 years old now and it is a ruff world out there.take care stay in peace

eddie jones
ashtabula, ohio

Dear Chris,

I read a story once about a homeless boy in New York that lived on the streets by himself. He realized that the only way out of poverty was to educated himself. So he went to school and graduated and went on to college on a grant (loan you do not have to pay back) and became a successful business man.

You can do the same by either going on to technical school and learning a trade, such as welding or truck driving and move up from there.

I was 32 years old before I started college and it took me awhile taking courses at night and driving 70 miles to the university and back twice a week. I worked in the day. Anyway I made it with a B.S. in Business Administration and taught high school business for 5 years before joining the federal goverment as an accountant for the Marine Corps. I retired last year at 64 at a $70,000 a year salary. My retirement is $2,500 a month. I raised a son and a daughter. You can do it. You have to pick a field and start working at it, even if it takes several years.

My husband lost his job - the plant closed - after 30 years of work and he took a truck driving course at the state technical school. Everything was paid for by the state. After driving for 2 years for a company, he bought a used Freightliner and made $2,000 a week gross (he would net half after expenses). He was 58 years old when this happened. Life goes on and has its ups and downs. My daugher lost her husband in a construction accident at age 19. She had a baby 1 year old. I watched the baby and she went to technical school to learn aircraft repair. She is now 32 and makes $20 an hour. She owns her own home and car and is doing well.

Don't ever get up - just get up and get with it. You can also join the service, Navy or Air Force and part of your pay will go towards your college education. Many young men and women do this from all walks of life (farms, cities, you name it). There is opportunity out there. Don't sit down and let it pass you by. Yes, you have had a hard life - but the best is yet to come. You may have lost a family, but you can create your own and become a loving husband and provider. I think you handle yourself very well and have a great insight to understanding people. I hope you find it and faith in God to help you. My prayers are with you.

Leesburg, FL

Dear Chris,

Dear Chris,

It's been a week since I first saw you on television and even still, I can't get your story out of my much so that I HAD to write. I can't tell you how much I admire you. You've had so much to deal with and still you keep an upbeat outlook (most of the time).I hope you know how many people think as highly of you as I do. I know that I don't personally know you, but I am VERY proud of you and I hope you are proud of yourself. I hope you are continuing to further your education. You have so much potential and I know you can do it! You've come so far would make no sense to turn back now.

I wrote to tell you how highly I think of you and to encourage you to continue to better yourself because in a way, that's what your story has done for me and for that I am very grateful!

Keep up the good work!

Rebecca Fletcher
Bastrop, Louisiana


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posted jan. 9, 2006

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