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THURSDAY, MAY 11, 2006
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Mike Ball thanks PACT for helping troubled youths

By Paul Huggins
DAILY Staff Writer

phuggins@decaturdaily.com 340-2395

Mike Ball couldn't believe it when his father called and thanked his teacher for giving his son his first paddling at school.

"I thought there was a conspiracy or something," he said, noting he never got a paddling growing up in California the first nine years of his life.

Wednesday's speaker at the annual Parents and Children Together volunteer appreciation luncheon said his father gave him plenty of spankings to reverse the disobedient attitude he developed without role models up until then. The worst part of the punishment, he said, was seeing his father's disappointment.

Ball is a former Alabama state trooper and Alabama Bureau of Investigation officer, and elected as a state representative in 2002.

Gov. Bob Riley appointed the Republican from Madison to serve on the Children's Trust Fund board.

Ball said he gained a lot of experience in seeing what disadvantaged children needed while working crime, but his longtime interest in child advocacy stems from his personal experience.

Ball's mother divorced his father just before he was born and moved from Hartselle to California. She was in and out of mental hospitals until he was 9. A social worker intervened and persuaded his mother to let him move back to Hartselle to be with his father.

Ball, who was passed among foster homes until he moved back with his father, said he had no one to teach him moral values before then, and it was no wonder he was arrested at age 8.

He credits his father, who had only a sixth-grade education and worked at a lumberyard, for teaching him the value of hard work and the right way to treat people.

"He didn't just tell me how to treat people, he showed me how to treat people," he said, noting his father never passed a stranded motorist without stopping to help.

His father died in a lumber mill accident when Ball was 14. Though greatly angered by the loss, Ball said he eventually had no choice but surrender to God and let him lead his life from then on.

Relatives and friends continued the moral upbringing his father started, he said, and looking back, God always provided exactly what he needed just when he needed it.

He thanked the PACT volunteers and staff for investing their time and energies to be mentors just like the ones who turned his life around.

"I know this organization and all you people are what people need when people need it," he said. "When you invest in a young person's life, you're investing in something that has eternal consequences."

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