Man with Cerebral Palsy Competes in Ironman Triathlons with His Father

Man with Cerebral Palsy Competes in Ironman Triathlons with His Father

August 22, 2023 by Cathy Stack

ROCKFORD, Mich.—Team Agar, a father-son triathlete team, defy the odds and set a new standard for incredible athleticism as they complete endurance races together. Johnny, 29, lives with congenital cerebral palsy, a muscle disorder that makes it difficult to walk and talk. With the help of his father, Jeff, 59, he has participated in more than 200 races across the country, from 5Ks to an Ironman competition.

Jeff physically powers the duo through each race and challenge, but both men contribute the drive, dedication and enthusiasm needed to complete such taxing courses. Jeff pushes, pulls and hauls Johnny though the triathlons as they swim, bike and run. Together with their equipment, the team totals 400 pounds.

“I'm not a fan of swimming, biking or running, which is perfect for triathlon,” Jeff said with a laugh. “I'm not doing it because I love it. This is Johnny's dream, and I'm giving him the legs and the power to do it.”

Jeff decided to pursue endurance races out of a strong desire to show his son that you can’t allow obstacles to stand in your way.

Team Agar has followed a unique path toward fulfilling that dream. Medical experts told Johnny that he likely would never walk, but his family always believed in Johnny’s abilities. Johnny grew up with the notion, “if there is a will, there is a way.” Johnny views his physical challenges as having a hand in shaping his courage and unique perspective. He said inspiring others give purpose to his challenges.

Over the course of 14 years, Team Agar has completed more than 200 races in nine states. In September 2022, they added “Ironman finishers” to their race titles. In that famously grueling Maryland race, they had to complete the 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike ride and 26.2-mile run in less than 17 hours.

“Sometimes you win, sometimes you learn,” Johnny said of the previous five times they didn’t complete the Ironman race. “It's not about the medal for me. It's not about the fame. It’s about doing it as a team.”

Their recent Ironman victory fueled their ambition. They decided to apply to participate in the elite Ironman World Championship, considered the pinnacle of Ironman races. Teams with special circumstances must receive an invitation to compete.

Team Agar recently caught the attention of legendary Hall of Fame quarterback Peyton Manning, as well as the Ironman organization. Peyton surprised Johnny and Jeff with an official invitation to compete in the prestigious Ironman World Championship.

“You guys are incredible and a true inspiration,” Peyton told them.

The Ironman organization stated that Team Agar personifies “the spirit of the sport.”

Father and son are busy training for the event, which will take place in October 2023 in Kona, Hawaii.

“When I hopefully walk across that finish line, I'm gonna put in every, every ounce of energy that I have,” Johnny said. “It's going to be really, really special for me.”

Team Agar are true heroes. Together, they have triumphed against the odds and proved that no obstacle is too difficult to conquer. They are breaking barriers and redefining what it means to be a champion. They embody the value of teamwork.  Please help PassItOn celebrate Johnny and Jeff Agar by sharing their inspring story.  

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Your Comments
DT Barlow from Colorado AUGUST 23, 2023
Awesome awesome awesome!

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