Juriah’s secret: Focus on what’s to come, not where he’s been

Published 3:01 am Saturday, August 22, 2015

Juriah Johnson should have started a new semester of college this week.

But instead of studying to be a history teacher, as he someday hopes to do, Juriah is completing more difficult tasks. The 20-year-old is slowly, painstakingly, learning to walk alone.

In the summer after his senior year, a brain bleed destroyed his motor skills. His mom, Faye Johnson, said her son’s body was like a pretzel. He couldn’t even sit in a chair.

But Juriah didn’t give up, and his family and team of caregivers didn’t give up on him. He still uses crutches, but manages to take a few steps without aid, and diligently works at his therapy.

It was my great pleasure to meet this amazing young man earlier this week at Andalusia Regional Hospital, where I was to interview him for a testimonial ad. I never dreamed he – and his mom – would be so inspiring.

There is no bitterness about the fate that changed his course. There is only thankfulness that’s he’s still here, and a belief that he has a purpose. His faith is strong, and he says that faith brought him through the toughest part of his several-year ordeal.

“Even in the hardest part of his recovery, he was concerned about others,” his mom recalled, citing days at Children’s Hospital when, despite the difficulty of his own therapy, Juriah was intently focused on encouraging the friends he made there.

There was one little girl who was encourage by Fruit Loops. So in addition to taking her treat, he made her a bracelet from her favorite cereal as he worked on tuning his own motor skills.

“Just put your mind to it,” Juriah said. “I focus my mind on where I am going to be.”

Instead of going to college parties, Juriah socializes at physical therapy. He enjoys sports, and is gearing up to cheer for Georgia’s Bulldogs in a few weeks.

Juriah reminded me in a challenging week that with the right attitude, we all come closer to conquering our challenges.