From LaLoni Heath:
It is senior night at Green Canyon High School and the football coaches, players, and faculty have put together an amazing tribute to an amazing young man. Jonny Stott has been managing the green canyon high football team for the last few years and was surprised with a jersey and an offer to start the game as quarterback in Friday night’s football game.
Jonny was born with a rare genetic mutation that left him with muscles in his legs, feet, arms, shoulders, face, and elsewhere paralyzed. His quiet grit, determination, goodness, and inability to back down or give up have inspired thousands. He simply works at it until he figures out a way – Jonny’s way.
From what we understand, most children with similar mutations do not live through childhood and spend what few years they have in wheelchairs. Jonny has been told “no you can’t” since the day he was born. He couldn’t breathe. He couldn’t swallow. Statements like, “You won’t walk, run, or ride a bike… ever,” were his reality. “Watch me,” has been his response.
Setbacks and surgeries are as common as the bump and bruises that have permanent residence on his knobby knees. His smile and attitude are as infectious as they are inspiring. Every milestone is cause for celebration. This month was huge for him. He made it up the stairs with no hands. His motivation? “So, I can carry milk up the stairs for mom & someday carry my own kids up the stairs.” As a child, speech and writing were so difficult he was held back a year in school because he physically could not keep up.
Doctors came into his room after surgeries on both feet to tell his parents not to expect him to be up for a few days. He was jumping on the bed, begging to go shoot some hoops. The wheelchair that he was supposed to be confined to was never even considered. Any and all who meet Jonny are soon challenged to play one on one, anything.
Green Canyon ultimate frisbee team “B” team won the state tournament. Jonny was the “handle.” Before he could walk, he would “Jonny crawl” up the diving board and roll off into the deep end. “Jonny stroke” consists of two giant cow eyes, wide open, one foot sticking straight up, and a mix of doggie paddle, inch worm gyrations, and a giant smile to the edge of the pool. The annual “Greenville mile” took extra time every year waiting for hundreds of children to repeat the course in order to finish with Jonny. The roar of “Jonny! Jonny,” and Go Jonny go! Could be heard for miles. An Eagle Scout award is somewhere in his room, earned with zero accommodations.
This summer, Jonny decided to skip his junior year and took all his classes on line so he could be a senior this year and graduate with his friends. Why? “I don’t want to wait to go on a mission.” The BYU player flag that storms the field every game bares Jonny’s autograph. Jonny’s picture is on the “Hero Wall” in the BYU football facility. All he ever wants is to compete, and to play.
Friday night he’ll get one play. One play to remember for a lifetime. Game time forecast calls for 100% chance of tears.