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Athlete with cerebral palsy and dad cross Ironman finish line: 'It's the most beautiful thing'

'I'm giving him the legs and the power to do it,' said Jeff Agar about his son.

Athlete with cerebral palsy and dad cross Ironman finish line: 'It's the most beautiful thing'
Cover Image Source: Facebook | Johnny Agar

Jeff and Johnny Agar, the father-son duo are an inspiration. Johnny, 28 was born with cerebral palsy and never thought he could be an athlete. "My parents told me that the only thing stopping me from being an athlete was the doubt in my mind. So I threw that doubt out the window," he writes on their website, Team Agar. But he left no stone unturned to accomplish his dream. As he continued his life as an athlete, he always had his dad Jeff, 59 by his side—for all the 200 races across nine states over the past 14 years. But their most recent achievement, the biggest that they have accomplished together is completing the ultimate endurance event: a full-distance Ironman triathlon. They were emotional when it was announced, "You are an IRONMAN!" 



More than 1400 athletes participated in the Ironman Maryland race on September 17. It began with a 2.4-mile swim in the Choptank River, riding 112 miles through the Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge, and a 26.2-mile run around Cambridge with a finish at Long Wharf Park at Great Marsh, according to Endurance.Biz. Johnny said, “I loved being out here and racing with everyone. Everyone was so positive, and it is just what I needed in my life. I can’t thank everyone enough for the support.” This is a goal that Jeff and Johnny had attempted five times before. For the first time, they finished the triathlon with just five minutes to spare. Johnny took it upon himself to cross the finish line for his team at the triathlon."Walking in races was my way of telling dad, 'Okay, I'm not just going to say thank you anymore, I'm going to actually put words into action,'" Johhny said, according to CBS News.



As for Jeff, he takes on triathlons not because he loves it. "This is Johnny's dream and I'm giving him the legs and the power to do it," he said. He added that helping Johnny complete races is a "tremendous blessing" for him. "I'm able to express my desires through him and he understands that," he said. His wife Becky and he want to tell Johnny that he "can't let obstacles stand in your way." She said that her husband will always be hiding behind Johnny. "He doesn't want to be announced as an Ironman. It's Johnny's moment. And it's the most beautiful thing to me." Johnny's parents were devastated when Johnny was diagnosed with cerebral Palsy at three months of age. Although things were "totally different" for them, the couple has always loved Johnny unconditionally.

"Johnny’s smile and enthusiasm when talking about running was infectious," Jeff recalls. His participation in races with Johnny meant an opportunity to give him "the chance at being an athlete. Something he had always wanted to experience but had never been able to up to that point." And that motivated him to train, no matter how difficult it was. Jeff says that Johnny "gives me the reason to put in the effort even when I don’t feel like it.  And he believed in me, even when I didn’t believe in myself."



Jeff believes that "Johnny and I are proof of the Ironman motto that 'Anything is Possible'." The father-son duo is next planning to compete at the Ironman World Championship which happens next year in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii. "It's considered the most brutal one-day endurance event on the planet," Jeff said. "You get 17 hours. And we would probably use every minute of it. For sure." They participated in the race in 2016 but were not able to finish it in the allotted time. "Sometimes you win, sometimes you learn," Johnny said. "It's not about the medal for me. It's not about fame. It's about doing it as a team," Johnny said. 

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