Johnny embodies the true meaning of the Foundation’s Courageous Spirit Award. With a passion and drive to help others feel good about themselves, he leads by example with his amazing attitude and love of life. Johnny inspires everyone to embrace who they are, no matter what they face, and enjoy each day THRIVING not just surviving.
Johnny is also a HUGE Batman fan, and as a young man from Tennessee he is still working toward his dream of becoming an actor. He enjoys working out and hanging out with his siblings. Johnny love’s talking to people and inspiring them to feel good about themselves. However, Johnny has not always felt this way.
Tragedy marked his early life
At the age of 4, he and a younger sister were playing in a shed filled with hay, which went up in flames when his dog knocked over a candle they were using for light. After three heroic tries in a flame and smoke-filled entrapment, older sister Leah bravely pulled him out of the fire and got help.
But Johnny was horrifically burned, was airlifted out, and placed into an induced coma for six months. Nearly a hundred surgeries and countless hours of physical therapy agonizingly followed. The burns and deep scars covered 95% of his body, which was bad enough, yet the deepest and most penetrating wounds were to his heart and soul from cruel and thoughtless people.
True Recovery begins
Several years ago, Johnny was empowered when he made the decision not to let stranger’s words hurt him anymore. He began listening to singer Colton Dixon, whose music inspired him to keep going even through the darkest moments. The lyrics of one song “scars remind us who we are” generated a new purpose for Johnny’s life, realizing that being burned didn’t mean the end. It was a new beginning to reach out to other hurting people from an experience he could fully understand.
A Dream Fulfilled
It was Johnny’s lifelong dream to personally meet Colton Dixon and, the Courageous Faces Foundation was able to make that dream come true!
It all started at the Courageous Faces Foundation Denver SuperHeroes Gala, where after reaching out to Colton, the foundation received a video that was played as a stunning surprise to Johnny, our Courageous Spirit Award Winner. It was a personal invitation from Colton Dixon, dressed as Batman, to join him as his guest at an upcoming concert. The Foundation then provided and made the travel arrangements for Johnny to fly to Knoxville, Tennessee to attend Colton’s Positive Air Tour performance at the Knoxville Coliseum and to meet the amazing singer whose music had changed his life.
The trip was a whirlwind 48-hours of excitement that Johnny was able to share with his sister Leah and girlfriend Josie. The day of the big event started with Johnny, Leah, and Courageous Faces Foundation Senior Program Manager Dee Nichols being interviewed by Mark Packer at Channel 8 NEWS WVLT TV. The group was then whisked off to the coliseum to attend a VIP Question & Answer session followed by the long-awaited personal meet-and-greet for Johnny with Colton.
The avalanche of snapshots shows beaming smiles, nonstop hugs, sharing of stories, and exchanging of gifts. Johnny gave Colton a foundation t-shirt and hat as well as an extraordinary drawing of Colton and his wife that Johnny had stayed up all night to draw.
Colton presented Johnny with a t-shirt and CD and then in an amazing surprise, asked his manager to set up a second time for the two to get together after the concert where he could play his song Scars. The concert itself rocked the house and had everyone on their feet for four hours dancing and singing to Colton Dixon, Tauren Wells, Gawvi, Britt Nicole, and Skillet.
Colton’s Personal Tribute
Then came the special surprise.
The second round was as amazing as the first and Johnny got to meet and hang out with all of Colton’s band members. The two live-streamed on Facebook together as Colton personally played his song “Scars”- a performance for one, just for Johnny–the song that had turned his life around.
It was a night that truly fulfilled and exceeded Johnny’s lifelong dream, and a once-in-a-lifetime encounter for everyone that got to experience it with him. Thank you for supporting the Courageous Faces Foundation! This is just one example of how you partner with us to make small “miracles” happen to the people we serve.