Even small gifts change lives

Pay It Forward

Northern Cass Softball Gives to Teammate's Family

The Northern Cass Jaguars softball team was given a rare opportunity this spring, and it had nothing to do with gloves, balls or bats. Through Bell Bank’s Pay It Forward: Community Connect program, the girls had $1,000 to pay it forward to any organization, cause or family in need.

Since 2008, each Bell Bank employee has been empowered with the unique opportunity to Pay It Forward. Bell is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, and each full time employee received $2,500 to pay it forward. Employees also have the opportunity to use the Pay It Forward: Community Connect program to give some of those dollars to community members, who in turn can pay it forward.

“When I saw the amount of money was so large this year, I knew we could get the softball team involved,” assistant coach and marketing director of relationship/project management at Bell Tim How said. “There is a lot more to coaching than X’s and O’s. We couldn’t wait to see what the girls would do with the money. This was an opportunity for them to come together and make a real difference.”

The team found out in a meeting in early April that they had an opportunity to use $1,000 to pay it forward. Lots of ideas were thrown out and the girls got behind the concept right away. The hardest part was narrowing down to one or two options. Ultimately, the captains and returning players decided to split the $1000 in half.

The first $500 Pay It Forward contribution was made Monday night in Argusville during a 14U softball game. Several members of the varsity team came out to watch the 14U game and to present a check to Karla Johnson, who is battling cancer.

“Lexi came to me with the idea back in mid-April, but I think it originated from several girls talking about it,” How said. “They kind of wanted to take care of their softball family first. That’s pretty special if you ask me.”

Karla’s daughter Grace is a catcher and outfielder on the Northern Cass JV & varsity teams, as well as a player for the 14U team. Elizabeth Johnson, one of Grace’s older sisters, played softball at Northern Cass for four years, graduating in 2015.

“Knowing you made a difference in someone’s life is an amazing feeling,” senior captain Lexi Carpenter said. “I’m so happy we were able to help people in our community, especially from our Jaguar family.”

Karla, who wholeheartedly supports all Northern Cass extracurriculars, said that the last couple of weeks hadn’t been so great and that the team thinking of her in this way brightened her day.


Karla and the rest of the pro-Northern Cass crowd watched the team rally to win 8-6 in game one and 3-2 in walk off fashion in game two against Fargo Davies White to finish up the summer season.

Carpenter, Kendra Karl, Anyssa Hayden, Jesse Wetzel, Victoria Hoggarth, Raeann Murray and Kayla Hovland presented the check to Karla. Team members of the 14U team who are part of the spring team include Grace, Bailey Nelson, Brook Wadeson, Brooke Degerness, Kassie Pachak, Emily Anderson, Shelby Bring, Annika Bjerke, Onika Breyer and Morgan Nelson. Other players involved in the Pay It Forward donations are Hannah Kraiter, Carlee Ellingson, Molly Bohn, Brenna Dullum, Alyssa Bell and Elle Larson.

The softball team chose to donate the other $500 to Special Olympics of North Dakota. The organization is near and dear to the hearts of several players who have volunteered there over the past few years.