A father-and-son duo is making waves in the sports industry and they got noticed by one of its luminaries.
Jeff and Johnny Agar from Rockford, Michigan got the surprise of their lives when they got an invitation to join the 2024 Ironman World Championship in Kona, Hawaii. A prestigious tournament, this ultra-triathlon is by-invitation only and is joined by the very best triathletes in the world.
Johnny, 29, was born with cerebral palsy, a group of disorders that affect movement and coordination. His father, Jeff, 60, is his sole teammate who pushes, pulls, carries, and motivates Johnny through various sports competitions.
Walking in races was my way of telling Dad, ‘Okay, I’m not just going to say thank you anymore, I’m going to actually put words into action. —Johnny Agar
Sports has been a great inspiration for Johnny. He was always interested in sports as a child and when physical therapy was getting intense and overwhelming for him, his parents would encourage him to continue with the program using his hero, Hall of Fame Quarterback Peyton Manning.
“If we put on those jerseys, he would pretend he was one of those players, and he could understand,” said Becki, Johnny’s mom. “Because we said, ‘If the players are going to be good, they have to work out all the time’’ And that was his language, he understood that. And it just grew from there.”
Jeff and Johnny have completed over 200 races, including a full Ironman triathlon where they swam, biked, and ran 140 miles in just 17 hours.
The tandem proves that anything is possible because of love. “I mean, I’m not a fan of swimming, biking or running, which is perfect for triathlon,” Jeff joked in an interview with CBS News. “This probably wouldn’t be in the top 100 things I would select to do…I’m not doing it because I love it. This is Johnny’s dream and I’m giving him the legs and the power to do it.”
Peyton Manning sends exclusive invite to Team Agar
NFL legend Peyton Manning made Team Agar’s dream come true with his invite to the IRONMAN World Championship. Jeff and Johnny were amazed with Manning’s official invitation to the coveted competition.
“Rumor has it you’re a big fan of mine,” Manning told the Agars in a video message. “I’m a big fan of yours as well! You guys are incredible and a true inspiration.” He continued, “On behalf of IRONMAN, it’s my honor to share with you that Team Agar has earned an official invite to the 2024 IRONMAN World Championship in Kona, Hawaii. Congratulations and good luck! I’ll be rooting for you the whole way.”
Team Agar now has 16 months to train.
Jeff can be seen as doing all the work for the competitions, but it’s important to Johnny to cross the finish line on his two legs. “Walking in races was my way of telling Dad, ‘Okay, I’m not just going to say thank you anymore, I’m going to actually put words into action,'” he said.
Johnny is ready to do everything for the IRONMAN challenge, the toughest yet he and his father has to face. “When I hopefully walk across that finish line, I’m gonna put every, every ounce of energy that I have,” he said. “It’s going to be really, really special for me.”