Our Big Splash Bathroom Giveaway is one of the greatest things we have the opportunity to do as a company. It’s amazing that we get to help make life a little easier for a child who’s had to overcome so many obstacles. Their stories touch our hearts. And we love getting updates on their lives and hearing their fantastic accomplishments.
We could not be more excited to share the fantastic news, Jennifer Coots, the mother of our 2017 Big Splash recipients, shared with us last week. Jonathan, their 18-year old son, recently qualified for the World Championships in Para Powerlifting! His determination and accomplishments know no bounds. Jonathan was born with spina bifida and as a result, has no lower leg function between the knees. He uses forearm crutches to walk and a wheelchair for mobility.
Breaking All Barriers
While those obstacles could have deterred Jonathan from sports, they didn’t. In fact, he fought harder. Jonathan started playing wheelchair basketball during winters and track and field in the summers when he was younger. He quickly gained a love for the track and set his sights on racing every summer. He even went to the National Junior Disability Championships. It was there that he saw his first Para Powerlifting competition and he was hooked. Jonathan changed his goals hasn’t looked back.
He started lifting in 7th grade during the off-season and by freshman year of high school, he had made the school powerlifting team, competing with able-bodied lifters. During his sophomore year, Jonathan set a national bench press record at NASA High School Nationals. At the end of his Junior year, Jonathan attended an informational clinic in St. Louis about para powerlifting. It was there that he met the high-performance team manager for Team USA who saw the potential in Jonathan. He encouraged Jonathan to attend a Team USA lifting event in St. Louis and a clinic in New York last summer. And that’s when the whirlwind began.
The Road to Gold
Following the clinic in New York, Jonathan became a level one lifter and was eligible to lift, compete and qualify for national and international competitions. World Para Powerlifting has a four-year plan to help athletes meet criteria and standards to hopefully qualify for the Paralympics so Jonathan’s journey had just begun at that point.
Jonathan’s first national event was February 2019 in Richmond, VA. In Richmond, Jonathan qualified for World Championships in Astana, Kazakhstan and officially became part of Team USA! The Championships are this July. He has also applied for the 2019 Parapan American Games this August in Peru. They are waiting to hear if he was selected. Jonathan has two other national competitions in 2019 and in March of 2020, he will compete internationally in Dubai with hopes of competing in the 2024 Paralympics in Paris.
How can you help?
As many of you already know the costs of athletics adds up! The Coots family is looking for help with travel expenses through sponsorships and Jonathan has a GoFundMe page set up. Jennifer said they’re close to covering the costs of the World Championships but there is more travel on the horizon they need funding for. Charlie and Chris have generously offered to match each dollar up to $1,000 raised through the end of May. We are thrilled to see Jonathan’s success and we can’t wait to see him make Kansas City proud at the World Championships and beyond.