LOWELL TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) - Johnny Agar is an avid runner, a self-proclaimed sports fanatic, and a 19-year old teenager who has cerebral palsy.
His father Jeff has been behind Johnny for a number of races, pushing him from start to finish. Friday, Johnny gave his dad a break, crossing the finish line under his own power and matching his dad step-for-step.
PHOTOS: Johnny Agar finishes the race
Johnny, 19, has cerebral palsy. It's been a struggle from birth to breathe, talk and especially walk. He and his father have run 5Ks, 10Ks, and marathons. Every time, Jeff has pushed Johnny in his cart as part of My Team Triumph.
Friday, Johnny fulfilled a lifelong dream to finish the race with his own feet. Midway through the 5K race at St. Patrick's Parish in Parnell, Jeff lifted Johnny from his cart to his walker.
"Dad's done so much for me, I though I should give him a break a little bit," Johnny said.
For the first time in his life, Johnny completed the race on his own.
The struggle and determination of each step were written on his face.
"From the get-go when he was born, he struggled to take his first breath. Everything is a struggle for him. But in the end he always has such a positive attitude. Even if he doesn't accomplish what he set out to do. His attitude always get him through it," Johnny's mother Becki said.
He is with out doubt an inspiration for his family, friends and fellow parishioners at Saint Patrick's Parish in Parnell. Johnny told them after a mass that if he could walk a mile on his own, then there should be no reason why everyone else couldn't complete the 3.1-mile race.
"Before he ran the race, he said, 'You know, Mom, I just want to do this so I can inspire one person.' And to see all those people behind him was really, really amazing." Becki said.
By the time Johnny had made the turn back towards the finish line, an overwhelming crowd of support marched behind him. They pushed Johnny towards the finish with cheers and chants. Runners who were inspired to run the race because of his words at church now inspired Johnny to the end.
"It's a compliment to the parish how good it is here. It made it easier for me to do it with them behind me. The encouragement is what drove me to do it," Johnny said.
There was hardly a dry eye at the finish line. The young man's personal triumph and courageous journey, empowered by the spirit of the community he loves so much found it's way to the finish line.
Standing tall, hands waving high in the air in victory, Johnny absorbed the feeling that his father had felt in so many races before -- now an emotion they both can share.
"For me to experience it with him was pretty cool. One thing I'll remember for ever," he said.
Watch the video for the heartwarming tale of a young boy's challenge.
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