Cystic Fibrosis didn't stop Joe Johnson from becoming a champion athlete
When you first meet Joe Johnson, you would never guess he suffers from a disorder that should have prevented him from becoming a champion athlete.
“Right around elementary school, maybe Grade Four or Five, I knew I was different,” he told W5’s Sandie Rinaldo.
Joe was born with Cystic Fibrosis (CF), a condition that thickens mucus in the stomach and lungs which makes it hard to digest food and absorb oxygen. He wasn’t expected to live beyond the age of 18.
Fortunately, Joe’s CF turned out to be less severe than some, kept under control with a cocktail of drugs and enzymes. Even so, he expected to face a lifetime of difficult breathing, weakness and limited mobility. But Joe is not someone who gives up easily.
“Doctors told me, you might be held back physically because of this disease,” he said. “But at the time I was, like, okay thanks for the warning but I’m just going to go keep up with everybody else and try to push through it all.”
He’s been doing that ever since and he chose one of the most gruelling training programs to make his point. It’s called Crossfit, a series of high-intensity activities performed in competition against the clock. At the age of 24, he’s now one of the top Crossfit athletes in the country.
At a Wasaga Beach, Ontario, competition in July 2015, Joe took second place and walked away with a cheque for $1,500. But money isn’t what motivates him. He has used his success to speak out for all those who share his condition and raises money for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. The motto on the t-shirts he sells says it all - Joe does it for those who can’t.
“When I go down to the clinic,” he said. “And I see the people who have CF that are worse off than what I am it breaks my heart. If I could be half of what I am to be to make somebody better, then take it away.”