Alex Johnson is an upbeat Friendship Christian School student who has confidence beyond his years. Greg Armstrong is a high school teacher at Friendship Christian School who teaches Biology, Bible, environmental science, anatomy and physiology.
Johnson has a rare form of skeletal dysplasia and struggles to walk. He spends most of his time in a wheelchair. Armstrong is an ultra-marathon runner and iron-man tri-athlete. This unlikely team formed TEAM Alex to make a difference and inspire.
“I recall a few years ago my first impression of Alex,” Armstong said. “He would come walking down on his walker saying, ‘Coach Armstrong, I’m going to race you one of these days.’”
Well, ‘one of those days’ is now becoming an annual event – to not run against each other but to run ‘for’ each other in an effort to inspire others. The team – with Armstrong pushing Johnson in a specialized wheelchair – finished Saturday’s Sherry’s Run 5K in the top 10 in just more than 18 minutes.
Watch the entire Sherry's Run, from start to finish, from the viewpoint of TEAM Alex - Alex Johnson and Greg Armstrong.
Johnson finished the final few feet of Sherry’s Run in his own wheelchair under his own power to create awareness for those confined to wheelchairs.
Skeletal dysplasia is a disease that affects the bones, including those found in the vertebral column. It is painful and a real struggle to walk and do many of the activities we all take for granted. Less than 10,000 people world-wide have Johnson’s form of dysplasia. There are different forms of the disease, including dwarfism and brittle-bone disease. In Johnson’s case, his joints are primarily affected resulting in stiffness and muscle weakness.
“TEAM Alex is making a difference,” Johnson said. I’ll do my best. I want you to know that it’s not nice to stare at people in wheelchairs – it makes them feel uncomfortable.”
TEAM Alex T-shirts are on sale at Friendship Christian School. The funds raised will go to Sherry’s Run, Run 4 Water, and the Friendship Christian School fund to help enhance the campus for those with disabilities.
“Alex has been an inspiration to me and so many others over the last few years” said Armstrong. “As a result of his disease progression, Alex is walking less and less.
Big brother Michael Johnson formed TEAM Alex in 2012.
“Join our team,” Michael Johnson said. “We are turning Alex’s disability into an ability to make a difference.”
TEAM Alex will also spread the message by participating in the 26-Mile Marathon on Sept. 21. More information can be found at run4water.net.
“Alex is amazing,” said Friendship president Jon Shoulders. “He has the most outgoing personality with extremely high self-confidence; the respect of those around him comes easily. He has a connection with so many of our students and our teachers.”