See through the stereotypes. See me for my strength.

John performing Tae Kwon Do
John performing in a Tae Kwon Do competition.

John is a person whose strength has always helped him accomplish whatever he puts his mind to. He believes that his persistence when talking to people who weren’t always supportive of his goals has taught him to continually advocate and show others that what matters most is what he wants for his own life.

“Strength means that when someone tells you ‘no’, you get right off your butt and say ‘hey, we’re going to do this anyway.’ I turn no into a yes; it takes a while, but I get there.”

John credits his mother for teaching him to use his voice and fight his own battles. Through his strength and determination, John has been able to push through barriers and realize his goal of living more independently since 2015, in his own apartment with his friend and roommate. He has also earned a black belt in taekwondo, earned trophies and awards for breaking boards and weaponry, published a book, and is eagerly plugging away at earning his GED.

John loves spending time with his friends and checking out scenery while visiting new places, including a recent trip to NYC where he visited Ellis Island, and he cannot wait to get back. He’s also learning to play chess.

When John talks about his strength and how it has led to his accomplishments, he said he feels “great” about it but asks that people not put him a on a pedestal. He also shares that being his own advocate is both a blessing a curse because it can be tiring facing people who always question ‘Are you sure you want to do this?’  He is dedicated to advocating for others, helping people speak up for themselves and “stick to their guns”.

“I am just one human being who doesn’t take no for answer,” he said.

When looking to the future, John has big plans. He says he is determined to live in his own home that he can make into a farm with animals, working outside on his own land. His long “to do” list includes plans to take part in a new karate training, flying lessons, finding a new job, traveling to Pennsylvania to spend time with the Amish, write more books, develop a new “AIM” athleisure shoe, and get a degree in Human Services. John says he’s not fazed by all the things he hopes to achieve because he always goes after what he wants.

“I am very driven in anything I do. I will accomplish it. I’ll drive people nuts to accomplish things. Someone once told me I couldn’t do taekwondo, I just went ahead and did that anyway.”