Many young children admire professional athletes. They dream of becoming one themselves, or at the very least aspire to meet them. For Jase Johnson, a child with Chiari malformation, this dream became a reality. Keep reading to find out how, or follow the original story here.
The first thing many people notice about Jase is his bright smile. He was born with it, and he’s just a happy kid to all appearances.
Inside, Jase is battling a debilitating illness. He was diagnosed at the age of four with Chiari malformation. A part of his brain is seated lower than normal and presses against his spine. Even after surgery, Jase still suffers the effects of his condition, including weakness, dizziness, speech and vision problems, problem with balance and motor control. All of these are possible symptoms Jase may run up against. To learn more about Chiari malformation, click here.
Jase was dealing with a large amount of leg pain. When he fell and hit his head, it meant a trip to the hospital for stitches. Doctors suggested an MRI as a safe measure and that’s when they discovered Jase’s Chiari malformation. In one surgical procedure, parts of Jase’s first and second neck bones were shaved down to make room for the abnormal part of his brain. While this may offer some relief, there remains no cure for Chiari malformation.
As a result, Riley Hospital for Children is a sort of home away from home for Jase and family. While on a recent visit, Jase’s family met radio host Dan Dakich. They started a GoFundMe page for Jase to help with the family’s struggles. When Indianapolis Colts General Manager Chris Ballard donated to the campaign, Jase’s mom wrote him a thank you letter. Ballard responded and wanted to know how Jase was doing. They still keep in touch.
Jase loves the Colts. He watches the games with his mom and dad every Sunday.
Shortly after the letter, Ballard invited Jase to come watch the Colts practice at Farm Bureau Football Center.
Jase and his mom were given a private tour of the Colts memorabilia room and got to speak with Bob Lamey, Voice of the Colts. Jase then got to step foot on the practice field. Coach Chuck Pagano introduced himself to Jase and began talking with him about the game. Coach Pagano introduced Jase to his favorite player T.Y. Hilton and got an autographed ball for Jase after a personal lesson on defensive aspects of the game.
For a long time, Jase wanted to be a football player. After his diagnosis, he was put on restrictions that prevented him from playing the sport. When Andrew Luck suffered an injury and came back to play it inspired Jase to keep going. It inspired Jase that he can do anything he wants.
Jase got to met and spend time with the entire Colts team. He has a whole football full of autographs and memories to show for it. More important than any of that, however, was the chance for Jase to meet with the people who most inspire him.
Jase had another surgery coming up just five days before Christmas. He’s still smiling. No matter what he goes through he seems to always keep on going. Just as the Colts inspire Jase, Jase inspires his mom. Seeing Jase’s bravery day-to-day gave her the courage to go back to school and get her special education license.
There’s a lot we can learn from Jase.
To check out his GoFundMe, click here.