Meet triathlete Johnny Agar – CPF’s Newest Sports Ambassador!

So excited to announce that Johnny will be our Sports Ambassador. Catch him in Under Armour’s #WillFindsAWay campaign that features The Rock and other determined athletes and their will to succeed.

Johnny lives in Rockford, MI with his Mom, Dad, and two younger sisters, Annie & Grace. He is currently a Senior at Aquinas College in Grand Rapids, MI, working toward a degree in Sports Management/Business Administration and on the Dean’s list so far every semester of his college career.

Born prematurely, Johnny has cerebral palsy and is mostly confined to a wheelchair. He has participated for several years in numerous myTeamTriumph (mTT) 5Ks, Marathons and Triathlons being pushed by able-bodied athletes. Inspired by mTT, Johnny and his Dad began doing 5Ks, marathons and triathlons on their own. This ultimately led to Johnny setting a goal most would have thought to be impossible. He wanted to walk a mile in a race.  Up to that point, his longest “walk” aided by a walker was 20 steps. Through hard work and a habilitative-educational program called the Conductive Learning Center in Grand Rapids, MI, he competed in his first race using his walker. This 5K was covered by local media, WOOD TV8, and soon gained national attention when it was featured on ESPN’s E:60 show which chronicled his transition from wheelchair-bound participant to actually competing as he finished the “Final Mile”.

What does being CPF’s sports ambassador mean to you?

I have been involved in sports in some way or another since I was very little. I even learned how to count and read by looking at the back of players’ jerseys! However, actually participating for me was a challenge. I longed to be considered an athlete like my dad. I did not let cerebral palsy limit my goals and through hard work, and organizations like myTeamTriumph, I was able to compete and eventually cross a finish line on my own two feet with the help of my walker! What a great feeling! As ambassador for the Cerebral Palsy Foundation, I am most excited to let others know that they, too, can set out to accomplish anything they want to do in life if they have determination, perseverance, the right attitude, and support from great organizations like CPF. I am not anyone special, I just refused to let cerebral palsy set limits on myself! I am looking forward to sharing my journey through an athlete’s perspective.

What do you wish people knew about CP?

Cerebral palsy is a disorder that primarily affects the muscles because the brain is sending a mixed message to them. It is similar to your car misfiring. If the electricity doesn’t get to the spark plug, your engine will run rough.  A person has over 650 muscles in their body, so can you imagine your brain sending mixed signals to all or some of your muscles at the same time or sporadically?  The biggest thing I want others to know is that people with cerebral palsy may move differently or not be able to talk (the mouth, tongue and diaphragm are muscles after all!), but this does not mean they are not intelligent, and social people! Just like your car’s engine, we need a spark of conversation in order to start a friendship!  So, please don’t be afraid to talk to me or my friends with cerebral palsy, it could be the start of something great!

What does being in Under Armour’s #WillFindsAWay Campaign mean to you?

Being in the Under Armour “Will Finds A Way” commercial is very special! Throughout my life, I have tried to look at my challenges as just obstacles that I can either get around or plow through! This campaign does a great job of showcasing several other athletes who have done just that. I am excited because I want people to know that while physical challenges can be tough, they can also make you stronger…physically and mentally. This campaign shows the will that it takes to get that task done. It shows that the challenges we face shouldn’t stop us, but should be there to strengthen us. All the other athletes in the commercial alongside me have had many obstacles thrown at them and they could have given up before reaching their goals – but they didn’t. Being a part of a message like that is very rewarding.