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Isaiah Johnson was born with an abundance of motivation and attitude. At 12 years old, he is an aspiring Olympian in Wheelchair Basketball. He is an athlete whose focus is clear.

Isaiah, born prematurely, and weighing only 2 lb. 8 oz. spent the first two months of his life in the NICU at Akron Children’s Hospital. At five months old, he was diagnosed with spastic dysplasia, the most common form of cerebral palsy. It mostly affects his legs, and to a lesser degree his arms. He learned to walk with crutches when he started kindergarten. The stronger he got, the more determined he became to build his strength and reach his full potential.

After joining our Junior Wheelchair Cavaliers team last year, Achievement Centers’ Manager of Sports Services, Mike Urban, recommended they see Josh Palcic, a physical therapist at the Achievement Centers. Isaiah’s short term goal was to make a basket at the 10′ regulation height. Josh understood that Isaiah’s motivation to play basketball would also help him attain greater overall body strength and coordination. He explained to Isaiah how important it was for him not only to develop his upper body strength, but also to build his lower body strength to provide extra stability for sitting and shooting the high hoops. In addition to traditional therapy techniques, Josh customized his plan to include activities that would translate to improving his basketball skills. These include shooting hoops in the gym, and racing around cones for agility, balance, and endurance, all under the coach-like direction of his therapist. His mother provides encouragement at his therapy sessions from the sidelines calling out “no shortcuts to greatness!”

Isaiah continues to push himself. “My goal is to be on the Olympic team for Wheelchair Basketball.” He really likes his Achievement Centers Junior Wheelchair Cavaliers Basketball team because “they are supportive and they were probably like me when they first started playing.” His mother says, “he wants to be a star.” Isaiah made his first basket last week after working for a full year. There is no stopping this motivated and driven athlete!

"My goal is to be on the Olympic team for Wheelchair Basketball."

Isaiah Johnson
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