Christmas in August

Christmas in August
United States Sen. Tim Johnson is returning to South Dakota Aug. 28, and Vermillion citizens are encouraged to give a rousing welcome to their hometown political success story.

Johnson will make his homecoming speech Tuesday, Aug. 28 at the Sioux Falls Arena and Convention Center, 1211 N. West Avenue in Sioux Falls, beginning at 4:30 p.m.

Vermillion Mayor Dan Christopherson, who has been friends with Johnson siince childhood, is encouraging citizens from Johnson's hometown to attend the speech to welcome the senator and his family home to South Dakota.


Those who are able to make the trip to Sioux Falls are asked to meet at the entrance to Ballroom B at the Convention Center at 3:50 p.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 28. The Vermillion delegation will be able to enter as a group at this time.

Please call the Vermillion Chamber of Commerce and Development Company at 624-5571 to place your name on the list for preferential entry with the Vermillion group at no charge.

"Your attendance is solicited and encouraged as we offer Tim a show of support from his hometown and a big welcome home!" Christopherson stated in a letter to the editor of the Plain Talk.

Johnson and his wife, Barbara, announced Aug. 7 that they planned to return to South Dakota at the end of the month.

"The doctors have given me a 'thumbs up', and Barb and I are incredibly excited to head home. We have missed our friends and family and cannot wait to meet our two new grandchildren," Johnson said.�

Johnson has not been away from the Washington, DC area since late last December, when he suffered a brain hemorrhage while working on Capitol Hill.

The senator has been recovering at hospitals and in his Fairfax, VA home and has not appeared in public since he fell ill.

Johnson has been undergoing speech therapy and is expected to return to the Senate sometime in September. He will use a motorized scooter to get around in the Capitol.

Johnson, 60, was rushed from his Senate office to George Washington University Hospital after becoming disoriented during a conference call with reporters in December.

He underwent emergency surgery for arteriovenous malformation, a condition that causes arteries and veins in the brain to grow abnormally large, become tangled and sometimes burst.

"I know my return has taken longer than some people have liked – count me among them. But I learned early on in this journey the importance and necessity of relying on the advice and counsel of those doctors, nurses and therapists without whom my return would have been impossible," Johnson said earlier this month. "I am eternally grateful to each and every one of them. And frankly, I am very humbled and even a bit overwhelmed that the outpouring from South Dakotans has been one of support, prayer, understanding and patience."

Johnson's son, Brendan, who practices law in Sioux Falls, has watched his father undergo a remarkable healing process in the last eight months. He's sure that the trip home to South Dakota will only accelerate his father's recovery.

"After my father got out of the rehab center, and he got back home, his progress really increased," Brendan said, referring to his father's initial stay in both a Washington, DC hospital and later in a nearby rehabilitation center. "I think the same is going to be true when he is able to get back to South Dakota and later when he is able to get back to the floor of the Senate.

"I think those two things are really going to increase the speed of his recovery and serve as a motivating factor for him," Brendan said.

"This is definitely a goal of Tim's, to get back home," Fisher said. "The goal was to get home first and to thank the people of South Dakota, and shortly after that to get back to work in the Senate."

"While I have always believed there is a special uniqueness in South Dakotans, my faith in the goodness of the people of our state has never been higher," Johnson said.����

"We were scheduled to head home last December to celebrate Christmas and Tim's 60th birthday," Barbara Johnson said. "The celebration may be a little late, but planting our feet on South Dakota soil will be our Christmas morning.

"Our family and Tim's staff have been busy working to make sure things are in place when he returns. This is not the end of our journey to recovery, but it is a significant milestone," she said.

The Johnsons announced earlier this month that they are new grandparents. Brendan, and his wife, Jana, adopted two children from Ethiopia. Trualem, age 10, and Peneal, age 8, join their sons Sutton and Cooper as the newest members of the Johnson family.�

There likely will never be a dull moment for Tim and Barbara as they find themselves surrounded by their growing family.

South Dakotans who meet the senator next week will notice his speech is slower and softer, Brendan said. "He's not able to move as well as he once did. But just the fact that cognitively he's firing at 100 percent, and I think that going back to the Senate floor to communicate with his colleagues and to be engaged 100 percent in South Dakota issues is really going to help him."

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