Johnny’s 4,370-mile mission to spread awareness about Guillain-Barré Syndrome (GBS) started on March 28, 2011 in Reddington, California. His goal: New York City. His mother Sally inspired his journey. Three days after a routine flu shot, Sally was completely paralyzed from the neck down. Johnny moved her to many different hospitals for four months before she was finally diagnosed with GBS, an inflammatory disorder of the nerves around the brain and spinal cord. Once Sally was set up with a caregiver, Johnny decided to raise awareness about GBS and hopefully help other people who have been diagnosed.
His journey has not been easy. Johnny has faced mountain lions, gone days without food or water and has been injured many times. He says, “it has been not just a physical but an emotional and mental triumph to get through this.”
The Cowboy for a Cure could not have made it without the countless people he has met on his journey, perfect strangers offering him a place to stay, offering to put up his horses for the night. He says that the journey has “totally restored my faith in humanity and God.” He started out alone and now has friends every twenty miles across the country. As his finish line is in sight, he is joined by his mother thanks to the donations from Johnny’s friends and supporters; and a couple from Oklahoma, Jill and Roy, who saw him riding on the side of the road, bought him a cup of coffee and invited him and his horses to stay. They are now a part of his team. He never mapped out his journey and often doesn’t know where he is going to stay until he gets there. Johnny says that the greatest part of the experience has been meeting wonderful people. His mom says, “to have strangers just say come in our house and stay, it’s amazing.”
And because every great story has a romance, along the way, he met Sherree, his fiancé. She ran the website from Nevada, but joined Johnny when he broke his ankle two months ago in Pennsylvania. Once his journey ends in New York, they plan to marry. “We’re all on a wing and a prayer for sure,” he says with a laugh.
Johnny is riding out of West Orange tomorrow and hopes cross his finish line in New York by the end of the week. The plan is to hop a ferry and cross the Hudson with Sandy and Boog. So keep an eye out for the Cowboy for a Cure and his horses on your morning commute to Manhattan!