Home » Father And Son With Cerebral Palsy Plan To Compete At Ironman World Championship

Father And Son With Cerebral Palsy Plan To Compete At Ironman World Championship

by Nolan Hawk

Prepare to be inspired by Johnny Agar as he races towards his ultimate goal: the 2024 Ironman World Championship in Kona, Hawaii.

Born with cerebral palsy, Johnny faces physical challenges that would deter most, but with the unwavering support of his father, Jeff Agar, he’s surpassing expectations.

From a young age, Johnny’s passion for sports was evident. Whether it was cheering on his dad at minor league games where he was a relief pitcher for the Detroit Tigers, or watching his favorite athletes on TV, he was captivated.

But it wasn’t until Jeff joined him in racing that their journey truly began. “I was not a runner but Johnny loved it,” Jeff Agar told MLive.

“So we started doing these races and it evolved over the course of time.”

Despite not being a runner, athletically inclined Jeff began pushing, pulling, and carrying Johnny, who suffers from the neurological muscle disorder, through competitive races in their area.

Together, they tackled 5K runs, pushing boundaries and embracing the encouragement of the West Michigan running community.

Johnny, who spend an extraordinary time physical therapy to treat his condition, even enrolled in a local college to study sports management due to his love of athletics.

“I have to constantly be doing something in order to gain any significant function,” he remarked.

“That’s why I loved constantly being around athletes; I could feed off of them, and learn about their mindset and what motivated them. It really helped me.”

The milestones kept coming – 10K runs, 20K runs, and eventually full marathons and half-triathlons.

In 2016, Team Agar received a life-changing opportunity, when NBC and Ironman invited them to participate in the prestigious Ironman World Championship.

Although they fell short of completing the full triathlon, their determination remained unshaken.

“Sometimes you win, sometimes you learn,” Johnny said after they completed the swimming portion, but didn’t make the time cutoff after making it halfway through the biking portion.

Last year, they conquered their sixth attempt to finish full Ironman triathlon at a race in Maryland in less than 17 hours.

The incredible feat included a 2.4-mile swim, a 112-mile bike ride, and a grueling 26.2-mile run, which is equivalent to a full marathon.

And, in an awe-inspiring moment, Johnny rose from his wheelchair and walked across the finish line.

Despite having limited mobility and using a wheelchair to get around, Johnny had a goal to walk the final mile of their races, though at the time, he was only able to go for 23 steps.

Through his grit and a lot of physical therapy, Johnny was able to achieve that goal in 2012, and has been walking the last mile of their races ever since.

“The final mile represents what my whole life with cerebral palsy has been about: hard work, dedication, optimism, and determination,” he told Triathlete.

“The message that my parents taught me when I was young, and that I still apply today, is that it’s much easier to take on life one step at a time than it is to think about the huge task ahead of you. Small steps lead to bigger steps.”

Now Johnny has his sights set on walking the final mile of the Ironman World Championship in Kona, Hawaii next year.

Team Agar has set up a GoFundMe page to pay for lodging and transporting Johnny’s equipment to the island. To date they have raise $1,260 of their $10,000 goal to compete at the event.

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