ROCKFORD, Mich. — Here at 13 ON YOUR SIDE, we love sharing stories about incredible people doing amazing things, and there might be no one more inspiring than Rockford's own Johnny Agar.
From being in a wheelchair, to being an Ironman athlete and now a published author, Johnny has proven time and again that cerebral palsy cannot stop him.
"Mom and I wrote a book called the Impossible Mile, the Power of Living Life One Step at a Time," explained Johnny. A title that couldn't be more fitting.
"When Johnny was born, he was born prematurely, 3 pounds 7 ounces, he had Cerebral Palsy. Because of where the brain bleed was, the doctor at the time told us he probably wouldn't walk or talk," explained Johnny's mother and co-author, Becki.
Boy, did he prove them wrong. Johnny grew up in an athletic family and really wanted to be an athlete himself. That's where dad Jeff comes in.
"Jeff started racing with him, running with him, pulling and pushing him in a lot of triathlons and races so he could experience what it felt like to participate," explained Becki.
But that wasn't enough. Johnny set a goal to walk a mile to finish a race solo, when the furthest he had walked before was 23 steps.
"I heard my dad panting behind me...working so hard to get me across the finish line...and the other athletes doing the same," said Johnny. "I thought I had physical challenges but I see them and they are overcoming things, why can't I do that too?"
Making the Impossible Mile...possible.
The book is full of important messages. Johnny hopes that parents, especially, pay attention to this.
"My parents never sold me short on what I could do. I hope parents will do the same for their kids," said Johnny.
One step at a time.
"I'm excited because I hope we are able to show that anyone can tackle their impossible mile, right? Johnny's not anyone who is famous, he is just a person. But he never was afraid of failing because he did it over and over again, several times a day. So for him it was part of the process," said Becki.
"I think a lot of times people don't want to tackle things because they are afraid of failing, and its a scary thing. I hope people will realize when they read this, if Johnny can overcome his challenges, I can handle whatever I'm battling."
As the book releases, Johnny is crossing yet another finish line.
"I think the impossible is really simple to do if you have the right motivation and the right plan in place and the right people around you," said Johnny.
Photos: The Impossible Mile
Johnny's athletic career has had many highlights...including participating in the Kona Ironman with his dad and being an Under Armor ambassador.
The Impossible Mile is available starting Tuesday, Sept. 21.
Johnny is holding two book signing events this week where you can meet him in person. The first is Thursday, 9/23, from 7-8:30 p.m. at Baker Book House on E Paris, and the second is Sunday, 9/26, from 12-3 p.m. at St. Patrick Catholic Church in Ada.
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