Johnny Agar was planning to attend the Walt Disney World Marathon in Florida this weekend but his excitement level about the trip rose exponentially when he heard some news on SportsCenter.
Agar, who lives with cerebral palsy, was featured on ESPN’s E:60 in 2013 with his father Jeff, a former pitcher in the Detroit Tigers organization. The two have competed together in events, including marathons and triathlons, for the past decade, with Jeff running behind and pushing a special wheelchair that Johnny rides in.
The two took it a step further in 2013, when, as shown in the E:60 feature “The Final Mile,” Jeff stopped during a race and Johnny used a walker to walk the last mile of the event.
Which leads to what Johnny heard from Scott Van Pelt on the midnight SportsCenter: He had been given clearance to walk the final mile of the Disney Marathon.
“Johnny was invited to speak at the Under Armour company, and Scott hosted the talk,” Johnny’s mother Becki Agar told Steve Kaminski for MLive.com. “We got to know him quite well, and he likes Johnny a lot and was touched by Johnny. He said ‘If there is ever anything I can do, let me know.’ I thought it would be neat to surprise Johnny after we got the word that Johnny was going to be able to walk at the Disney Marathon.
“Scott said he wanted to be involved. He said ‘I would love to surprise him.’ I thought he would tweet something out to Johnny. But he decided to put it on his show.”
The Agars ensured that Johnny, who regularly watches SportsCenter, didn’t get an inkling of what Van Pelt was going to announce.
“I know that you know you’re going to Disney World,” Van Pelt said to Johnny. “But what I can share with you now is that you have been approved to walk the final mile in that Walt Disney World Marathon on January 13. So you need to ramp up that prep work my man. You’re on the clock.
“I know how much you love the place but I want to make sure you understand this isn’t a vacation – this is a business trip. You enjoy yourself. Happy New Year my friend.”