Everyone knows who Mr. Rogers was, right? Or at least everyone of a certain age remembers him. He was a friendly and kind man who graced the television screens of young children everywhere for many, many years.
On Thursday at Crookston High School, sixth, seventh and eighth graders got to listen to the man who became close friends with Fred Rogers. Tim Madigan, a Crookston native and author who's called Texas home for more than 30 years, spoke to the students about the things he learned from his friendship with Fred Rogers.
"He was one of the greatest human beings to ever walk the planet," Madigan said.
Madigan has actually written a book about the friendship, called "I'm Proud of You: My Friendship with Fred Rogers." It was first published in 2006 and earlier this year a second edition was published. The book has been so successful, Madigan began to travel the country speaking about it and sharing stories. But the conversation goes beyond just a simple heart-warming story.
Madigan's message to the students on Thursday wasn't just about how his friendship developed with Mr. Rogers, it was the importance of the type of relationship it was, for everyone. He explained that Rogers wanted to know "what was going on beneath the surface," that "what is essential about you is what we cannot see." Madigan said that when he'd share his troubles and personal demons with Rogers, Rogers "extended his love, his compassion without judgment."
That, Madigan said, is a friendship we all need. Everyone suffers and goes through pain at some point in their lives and needs someone whom they can trust, he told the students, which is especially true for depressed teenagers.
"Sometimes it is a matter of life and death," Madigan said. "Suffering is OK and you don't have to do it alone. If we all realize that we're all in this together, it's going to be OK."