Michael Johnson Camp helps children, YMCA of SelmaPublished 4:31pm Wednesday, May 1, 2013
Michael Johnson stood in the middle of Memorial Stadium Saturday morning, looking over what has become one of the marquee youth sporting events each year in Selma. It just so happens to be an event that also carries his name.
“This camp is about Selma and the people of Selma coming together to make it happen,” Johnson said. “I’m just a piece of the puzzle.”
Each year, the event raises funds to support a number of area organizations, but this year’s event — the fourth annual — went to support the YMCA of Selma, a place very close to Johnson’s heart.
Late last year, during the YMCA’s fundraising drive, Johnson’s foundation, the MJ93 Foundation, donated $10,000. Now, he’s hoping to do even more.
“I was basically raised at the YMCA,” Johnson said, adding he often goes to work out the YMCA of Selma when he is in town visiting family. “I went there and watched the older guys — the guys before me — and learned from them.
“They would notice that I was hungry to learn so they showed me different ways to work out, lift weights, play basketball whatever. It remains an important place in my life.”
Today Johnson, a Selma native and a rising star in the NFL with the Cincinnati Bengals, just hopes he is able to have an influence on children, much in the same way those at the YMCA were able to influence his life.
“Now, I’m just trying to do the same thing as those guys did; paying it forward,” Johnson said. “You just don’t know who the next who is out here right now. You might have the next judge, lawyer, doctor, pro player, whatever. I just want to make sure we are doing something that cultivates their mind, cultivates their growth.”
The annual camp attracts hundreds of children — both boys and girls — and has in years past been complety booked by the time the event comes around.
This year was no different, even with the threat of rain that was forecast for Saturday. Even with the forecasts, Johnson had no worries.
“Everyone was telling me we were going to have 60 percent chance of rain. Never a worry,” Johnson said. “We prayed on this, so it was going to be all good from the beginning.
“The kids are here having a great time. We are just so blessed to have everyone here and chipping in.”
For more information on Johnson’s foundation, visit www.mj93.org.