Tokeneke School's kindergartners and first-graders recently visited with a star athlete from their own backyard. Andrew Johnson, a 22-year-old Greenwich native who was born blind, recently represented the U.S. in the four-man crew event in the 2012 Paralympic Games.
An award-winning rower from Greenwich High School, Johnson has a number of World Championship competitions under his belt as well. Johnson shared motivational stories about his life and his career as an elite athlete, and answered questions from students including from how he accomplishes everyday tasks and how he trains for his competitions.
Johnson displayed the low-tech walking stick and the high-tech talking iPhone he uses, and even brought with him an old Braille machine to demonstrate how far technology has come in the years since he was an elementary school student. The audience included Cathy Coudert's first-grade class; Coudert taught Johnson when he attended pre-school in Greenwich.
Johnson's visit included a slideshow highlighting his many hobbies, including rock-climbing, sailing and hiking, as well as some pictures from his post-Paralympic visit to the White House with President Obama and the First Lady.
He impressed upon his young audience his belief that, although he is blind, he can do anything that anyone else can do. He has spent his life setting goals and achieving them, proving to himself that the possibilities are endless, even for someone without the ability to see. Johnson's future pursuits include the World Championship competition in Korea next year, the 2016 Paralympics in Rio, and his efforts to raise awareness for Adaptive Rowing.