Jimmie Johnson (is a Special Volunteer)

Jimmie Johnson (is a Special Volunteer)

Jimmie Johnson (is a Special Volunteer)

By Sara Crutchfield macho man opinions

Begun in 1968 by the Joseph P. Kennedy Jr. Foundation, the Special Olympics is an international association created for the benefit of persons with mental retardation. Both children and adults are provided with year-round training and competition in 26 summer and winter sports. Over 1 million athletes currently participate.

In addition to his day job, Jimmie Johnson, 50, has been a volunteer coach for the winter program since 1980. He describes his involvement with the Special Olympics as, "Joyful. It''s the most worthwhile thing I do." kuidas peenist suurendada

Johnson works in electrical and instrument projects at Dow Corning in Carrollton , Ky. For 15 years he has been making the 112-mile round-trip commute from his home in Salem , Indiana four times a week. bust size

Married to Judy for 20 years, the couple has two children: Emily, 15, and Aaron, 11. The family has lived in Salem since 1986 and has opted not to relocate because Johnson "moved a lot when I was growing up, had to get used to new schools, readjust. I didn''t want to put my children through that. Besides," he adds, "we really like Salem ." pro engine ultra

JOHNSON HITS THE SLOPES profit maximizer login

Another reason Johnson stays in Indiana is the seasonal second job he began in 1980. Three days a week during the winter he serves as the senior technical director for Paoli Peaks in Paoli , Indiana . The job entails training skiers for certification as official instructors.

Johnson played basketball and baseball in his school days but was not introduced to skiing until his early 20s when the Army sent him to a school in Europe called the Physical Readiness Training in Sports School . For two weeks he learned many different sports and the various ways to teach and coach. It was at this school in 1977 that Johnson first learned to ski. He''s been on the slopes ever since.

As sports coordinator for the 7 th Corps, he arranged ski and kayak trips for the soldiers while also providing instruction. "The trips were for relaxation," recalls Johnson. "A group called American Armed Forces Relaxation provided hotels all over Europe at minimal cost for men on leave. Some had their own ski areas."

This training led to his job at Paoli where Johnson is responsible for the training of 100 instructors. Three is the highest level in alpine skiing instruction, and Paoli Peaks has four level III instructors, of which Johnson is senior. He shyly admits to being, "the most knowledgeable guy out there."

A normal day on the slopes begins at nine. "Every hour I teach a different clinic specifically for the instructors. I might teach them how to coach or to improve their skiing - for beginners, intermediates or advanced skiiers."

Johnson may instruct a class on working with paraplegics through sit skiing or provide information for working with mentally handicapped children. "I was certified to teach blind skiers in 2002," he recalls. "Though I''d been doing that since 1982."

SPECIAL OLYMPICS

His involvement in the Special Olympics began on an easy enough note. In 1980 Johnson was working as a full-time ski instructor. Special Olympics coordinators approached the Paoli Peaks to set up racecourses for their participants. Johnson was the man for the job.

Having coached other sports like JV volleyball at Salem High School and taught martial arts to children and adults for 25 years, it was a natural progression that Johnson combine his knowledge of skiing with coaching for special needs persons.

When the World Games for Special Olympics were held in Anchorage , Alaska in 2001, Johnson was selected as head coach for the Great Lakes Region. A total of 11 participants were chosen from five states - Michigan , Illinois , Ohio , Indiana and Kentucky . The number of competitors for the 2001 World Games totaled more than 3,000 athletes ranging in age from 13 to 44. They competed in alpine and cross country skiing, figure and speed skating, floor hockey, snowboarding and snowshoeing.

Five coaches for team USA traveled to Anchorage for two weeks "and a lot of hard work," says Johnson. Coaches begin their day at the Worlds at 5 a.m. and complete their last meeting at 11 p.m. "Most important, we must know all the medical information for each person at all times - know what each of them needs," adds Johnson. "We''re responsible for their well-being."

There is also the task of choosing competitors. In addition to certain obligations to which families must commit, Johnson says, "we must consider whether the athlete can perform for two weeks away from home. We have to think about the airplane flights and bus rides." Placed above all is the comfort of the Special Olympian. To everyone''s delight, events in Alaska went smoothly. "We had no problems with our 11," Johnson happily remembers.

The Special Olympics World Games competitions are traditionally held the year proceeding the regular Olympic Games. In 2005 they will be in Nagano , Japan . This time only one coach will accompany 48 skiers slated to compete. Johnson was recently notified that he has been selected for the position of USA head coach alpine.

Johnson''s job at Dow Corning is linked to his volunteer work with the Special Olympics through the organization''s strong commitment to fundraising. He calls his employer "just a tremendous company." Last year their charity golf tournament attracted 400 participants and raised $75,000 for the Special Olympics.

Dow Corning has been the sole sponsor of the last seven Kentucky Special Olympics Winter Games held annually at Perfect North Slopes in Lawrenceburg, IN. Additional money raised is spread throughout other programs and used for scholarships given to individual athletes competing in out-of-town events, bypassing fees which, though nominal, can be prohibitive.

Johnson loves the fact that when coaching season comes around "the kids always remember you. Their attitude is wonderful." Though he claims to have difficulty putting the experience into words, Johnson believes that volunteering for the Special Olympics and seeing the looks on the faces of the athletes "must add years to your life - it''s that joyful."

He encourages all parents of children with mental retardation to get involved. "Just look in the phone book for your Special Olympics local chapter," he urges, "and someone will be there to explain the meetings and procedures." Whether your child excels at sports or is taking first, tentative steps, the Special Olympics organizers and coaches will ensure a fun, rewarding experience for all involved. "The determination of these kids. . ." says Johnson, "it''s just awesome."

Sara Crutchfield is a freelance writer for Kentuckiana HealthFitness Magazine. Sara has a B.A. in English from the University of Louisville .

Coaching Spotlight. KHF will be spotlighting coaches in Kentuckiana who are good role models and provide their players with patience, dedication, knowledge about the game, enthusiasm, leadership, and good communication skills. If you want to recommend a coach for us to spotlight, please write to: Coaches'' Spotlight, KHF, P.O. Box 436387 , Louisville , KY 40253-6387 . You can also e-mail recommendations to: BDayKHF@aol.com or you can fax your questions to: (502) 245-4098.

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