From races to reflections, Johnny’s story is always taking new steps. Check in with Johnny here—if you can catch him.

Behind the Scenes – “Will Finds A Way” Under Armour Campaign!

I received an early Christmas present from Under Armour! In December I got a call from UA asking if I would like to be in their newest train campaign called, “Will Finds A Way”. I don’t think they had the opportunity to finish the sentence before we said, “YES”! 🙂

My family and I flew out to Los Angeles in mid-February to film the campaign. I had never been to LA and was very excited to take it all in! Since we arrived late, we took the following day to sleep in a little and the rest of the day to see some sights. We drove around and visited Marina Del Ray, Venice Beach, and Malibu.


Love Weights for No One


LOVE. That four-letter word that inspires writers to write, songs to be melodic, and spurs the most introverted individual to come out of his shell all in its name. LOVE.

For some, including me, my love is getting a good full body workout in at the gym, it’s good for the soul. The problem I encountered was that I was always apprehensive to use the weight machines. My method of using them requires a little more assistance than others since I am in a wheelchair usually while lifting.

I also have to contort my body in a way that will accommodate my hands to be able to hold onto the bars. My hands aren’t able to pronate which means I can’t have my palm face up (I am terrible at the hand-slap game!) and so it is a challenge to give my full body the workout I want to give it. Add to that, that I want to do things as independently as possible, and the weight machines and I didn’t get to see each other as much as I would have liked.

Then, my friends at the YMCA changed all that. Different Y’s started teaching me how to use the machines so that I could more easily attain my fitness goals. And a few years ago, they built the Mary Free Bed YMCA in Grand Rapids, Michigan and made it completely wheelchair accessible. Not only is the entire building wheelchair-friendly, but they have weight machines made specifically for those people in wheelchairs!

2 summers ago, the Mary Free Bed YMCA kindly invited me and my wonderful trouble-making pals from the Conductive Learning Center to visit them for one of the weeks of our 5-week intensive program. That week, changed the way I do workouts.

The YMCA staff, along with the Conductors (therapists/teachers) of the Conductive Learning Center, worked with all of us to figure out the best method to get the most out of our workout – regardless of our different special needs. It was a game-changer for me. To have access to equipment that I could use independently and with minimal assistance was a great experience. Now, maybe I can put my application into the “Big Guns Club” 😉 I guess you could say it’s a weight lifted off my shoulders (see what I did there?)

This Valentine’s Day, I hope you get to do what you love best….time for me to go to the gym.

Taking On Life One Step at a Time,



The Weight of “Iron”

“It’s not the load that breaks you down, it’s the way you carry it.”

Lou Holtz, one of Notre Dame’s most beloved coaches and a person who I admire greatly, is quoted as saying that. I thought a lot about this quote this past Sunday when I was doing a training walk with my Aunt Janet and Uncle Chris. I was looking forward to getting back out again on the pavement to increase my endurance and work on my stepping and foot placement for my journey to Kona. What I didn’t count on was the extreme humidity outside. 100% humidity, well let me back up, it felt like 100% humidity to me, it may not have been, but the air was pretty thick.READ MORE

“Sometimes You Win, Sometimes You Learn”.

And Boy Did We Ever Learn.

Life is not all about having things your way. You can wish, organize, dream, prepare, rehearse, and plan over and over and over again, but still sometimes your best laid plans fall short.

Just ask the Alabama football team. Clemson was a touchdown underdog taking on perhaps the greatest college football team that ever took a field; Nick Saban’s Alabama Crimson Tide. Clemson was behind by double-digits in the fourth quarter but never gave up and with 2 minutes left to play, drove down the field to become the highly improbable National Champions. Great for Clemson, not so great for Alabama.READ MORE

Dream. Believe. Do.

This video shows my two friends from Aquinas, Kail Venema and Jake Bullock, making a buzzer beater shot to beat the defending NAIA D2 National Championship Cornerstone. With no time left on the clock, Jake hits a 40 ft jumpshot from half court. They never gave up in believing…READ MORE