Wheelchair Recipient Update: Owen Johnson

February 6th, 2013


A letter posted to Facebook by Owen Johnson’s mother…

“Yowza! What a month!

Where do I start? Well first of all, Owen got his power chair!!! The Darrell Gwynn Foundation presented it to him at their Hot Rods & Reels fundraising fishing tournament at the Homestead Motorsports Complex. This is a really incredible event where NASCAR drivers volunteer their time to fish in the tournament and people pay to fish with them on a professional tour guide’s boat. And the whole thing takes place on the lake in the middle of the Speedway! They even took us on a garage tour and we bumped into Richard Petty! It was a beautiful day and such an amazing turnout! The foundation had special shirts made for the event and they added a pink heart over their logo in memory of our little Hannah.

The next day, we were invited to the NASCAR Ford EcoBoost 400. First they had us accompany Darrell Gwynn on stage while he spoke about the foundation. It was unbelievably exciting! Then we took pictures with all of the drivers from Jaime McMurray to Jeff Gordon. We also met Roger Penske, Helio Castroneves, and Ryan Friedlinghaus of West Coast Customs (which is one of me and David’s favorite shows!) And to our surprise, Marc Bouniconti, from the Miami Project, was there as well. Everyone was so sweet towards Owen. And Owen was a little ham! Cheese grinning for every picture! We were even invited up to the private box seats to watch the race!!! Ahhh! So exciting!!! Owen absolutely loved the race! Thank you, thank you, thank you Darrell Gwynn Foundation!!! Besides an amazing chair, we had an unforgettable weekend!

Oh! Cute story! When Owen first got in his chair after arriving at the presentation, we asked him if he wanted to drive around since he had some open space. He said yes and then said, “I want to play tag with the girls!” So tag they played. He was so happy to chase them around on his own! I can’t tell you how much watching him chase the girls around meant to me and David. It was just incredible!

The house is taking on a new shape now that Owen has his power chair. Literally, a new shape because he is putting lines, dents, and holes in all of the walls! Seriously though, he is actually doing great driving the chair. He is much better at it with his chin than I am at steering it from behind. He mastered turns, getting himself through doorways, and getting on to his ramp for the car. I’m impressed! I know in a few weeks, he will have perfected his driving.”

Owen Johnson was severely injured in a tragic car accident on July 1, 2011 while his family was on vacation. His sister, Hannah, was killed in the accident while his pregnant mother, father and two other sisters were badly injured. Owen’s life instantly changed, as he was now a Quadriplegic at the age of four. He continues to persevere as he has made a great deal of progress since his accident. Owen has recently started preschool and desperately needed a power wheelchair to operate on his own. His families insurance along with Medicare denied his claim stating that his manual wheelchair was sufficient even though he could not operate it on his own.

The Donation by Darrell Gwynn Foundation: The Darrell Gwynn Foundation, on behalf of its donors and supporters, donated a $40,000 custom power wheelchair to Owen Johnson during Spinal Cord Injury Awareness Week, November 12 through the 18th. The theme of the custom power wheelchair, by request of Owen, was “Mario Cart” because he is a fan of racing and more specifically, Luigi. Owen Johnson, along with his family, received the custom power wheelchair at the Darrell Gwynn Foundation’s annual Hot Rods & Reels charity fishing tournament at Homestead-Miami International Speedway. Now Owen will be able to operate his own wheelchair and enjoy more independence.