Wrestler With Special Needs Lives His Dream - New York News

ADVERTISEMENT
Bookmark and Share

Wrestler With Special Needs Lives His Dream

Posted: Updated:

Seventeen-year-old Payton Johnson will not let anything get in his way. Despite having Down Syndrome, the teen is competing in wrestling events for his high school.

Payton wrestled in a match that mattered as much as any championship final. It's a feeling many high school wrestlers never get the chance to experience, winning a match at the state tournament.

"He was just glowing," recalled Payton's father Moyle Johnson.

His determination has earned him respect from all his peers. Watching him pin an opponent can be an emotional experience, even for people who don't know the teen.

Even the ref had tears in his eyes as 17-year-old Payton Johnson celebrated his win.

"He has a very special spirit of innocence and love and that touches people's hearts," said Payton's coach, Carlon Johnson.

Payton's parents said it's a great atmosphere for their son to be in.

"It's really awesome," Payton's mother, Tracy, said. "It's really good to see people with disabilities be included, and I'm glad that people are excited about it."

His teammates call him the backbone of the Bryce Valley wrestling team because he makes practice fun.

"He's just like a fun person to wrestle with," Teammate Adam Platt said. "He's probably my favorite person on the whole team to wrestle with."

Walker Smith from Escalante High School has wrestled Payton in the past, and even though he lets him win, he said getting pinned by Payton never feels like a loss.

"Everybody's excited when Payton gets a pin," Smith said. "When he wins, it's always exciting for everybody. Everybody's always happy about it."

"He smiles all the time, he jokes around," said Adam Platt. "He has a habit of tickling you when you're down."

Why pick wresting out of all the sports? "I get girls," Payton said.

Payton's mom said he's the healthiest he's ever been thanks to the sport. But win or lose, for Payton's parents, the best part of watching their son wrestle is seeing him being treated like everyone else.

"You look at his face and watch his eyes and they just glow because there is no difference between him and his teammates," Payton's father, Moyle Johnson, said.

Because Payton is in special education classes, he's able to stay in high school a little longer. His parents aren't sure when he'll graduate, but they're pretty certain he'll be affiliated with wrestling for many years to come.

  • Local NewsLocal NewsMore>>

  • Suspect, rookie officer both wounded in gunfire

    Suspect, rookie officer both wounded in gunfire

    Sunday, August 31 2014 10:11 PM EDT2014-09-01 02:11:38 GMT
    Authorities say an early morning gunfire exchange on a Brooklyn street has left the suspect hospitalized and a police officer with a graze wound.
    Authorities say an early morning gunfire exchange on a Brooklyn street has left the suspect hospitalized and a police officer with a graze wound.
  • New MTA bus routes take effect

    New MTA bus routes take effect

    Sunday, August 31 2014 9:51 PM EDT2014-09-01 01:51:36 GMT
    MTAMTA
    The MTA has new bus routes throughout the 5 boroughs. 
    The MTA has new bus routes throughout the 5 boroughs. 
  • 3 hurt in lightning strike as storms batter NYC area

    3 hurt in lightning strike as storms batter NYC area

    Sunday, August 31 2014 9:47 PM EDT2014-09-01 01:47:41 GMT
    Heavy thunderstorms swept through the tri-state on Sunday causing flash floods and lightning strikes that injured 3 people. The three men were struck at Orchard Beach in the Bronx Sunday afternoon and were being treated at a local hospital. Meanwhile, various Labor Day weekend celebrations were interrupted, delayed and even canceled as the U.S. Open tennis tournament had to be postponed and the Electric Zoo musical festival on Randall's Island had to be prematurely shut down.
    Heavy thunderstorms swept through the tri-state on Sunday causing flash floods and lightning strikes that injured 3 people. The three men were struck at Orchard Beach in the Bronx Sunday afternoon and were being treated at a local hospital. Meanwhile, various Labor Day weekend celebrations were interrupted, delayed and even canceled as the U.S. Open tennis tournament had to be postponed and the Electric Zoo musical festival on Randall's Island had to be prematurely shut down.
Powered by WorldNow
Didn't find what you were looking for?
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Fox Television Stations, Inc. and Worldnow. All Rights Reserved.
Privacy Policy | New Terms of Service What's new | Ad Choices