COSTA MESA ( — If energy is a factor, it’s clear to see why a 10-year-old Costa Mesa boy was chosen to help Governor Brown light the state capitol Christmas tree next week.

Christian Anderson has energy to burn. “I’m so excited,” he told CBS2 and KCAL9 reporter Melissa McCarty. “I’m bursting with energy!”

Anderson, who has autism, was chosen from more than 250,000 children with developmental disabilities to represent the state and light the tree at the 81st annual ceremony.

Anderson’s 5th grade teacher, Tami Fowler, knows this is a big deal. “It’s a very special honor,” she said, beaming.

Her class is also making special gifts for Christian to give to the governor — cutouts for the tree and paper presents.

Christian’s school, the non-profit Regional Center of Orange County was chosen as the school that would pick the child who would get tree-lighting honors. And Christian has been associated with the school since he was first diagnosed with autism at a year-and-a-half.

McCarty reports that Christian is the school’s poster child for the benefits of early intervention.

Meanwhile, his classmates imagined how tall the tree is going to be.

For the record? Big! The tree is estimated at 50-feet tall.

How many lights will be on the tree? One of Christian’s classmates guessed “Ten.”

Okay, it will really be more like 10,000 … but that’s still a lot of lights. And Christian is ready for the responsibility.

Lee Anderson has three boys with autism. She told McCarty that her family has a simple solution for coping with the challenges that that brings.  “Love your kid for who he is,” she says, matter-of-fact. “Embrace it.”




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