Case Study: Working With TeamAgar
At Butler Electric Service, we love helping our West Michigan community, which is what connected us to the Agar family. Our team had the pleasure of meeting this family and doing electrical work for a workout room in their home. This training room will help Johnny Agar, a 29-year-old with cerebral palsy, come closer to accomplishing his ambitious goal of completing the Ironman World Championships alongside his father, Jeff. We are eager to cheer on TeamAgar as they look forward to competing in the Ironman World Championship in Hawaii in 2024.
The Agar Family & The Journey to Ironman in Hawaii
The Agar family includes Jeff (father), Becki (mother), and their children Johnny, Annie, and Gracy. Becki and Jeff met at GVSU when Jeff was a pitcher for the Detroit Tigers minor league team. They got married, and Becki and Jeff made the decision to move to West Michigan a few years after Johnny and Annie were born.
Johnny was born with cerebral palsy, which affects certain muscles and limits movement. In Johnny’s case, he had the type that affects all the limbs in his body preventing him from doing most everything without help. Growing up, Johnny looked up to his dad and loved watching sports. He wanted to be an athlete. Because Johnny had difficulty with his right arm and hand, wheelchair sports weren’t an option. So, Johnny continued watching athletes compete without the ability to experience it.
Annie took up running on a whim one day, and Jeff started running with her. As running became part of their routine, Jeff and Annie looked for a way to include Johnny. Jeff got a device that allowed him to push Johnny on their runs. They kept running longer and longer distances.
A neighbor of the Agar family got them involved with myTeam Triumph, an organization that helps individuals with disabilities complete triathlons. Their neighbor connected with the Agar family, and a short while later, the neighbor and two others pushed Johnny across the finish line. Johnny loved it, and the Agar family loved the optimistic atmosphere of the triathletes.
After seeing the joy on Johnny’s face after the triathlon, Jeff and Annie wanted to help Johnny compete in more races. After some training, they completed their first triathlon in Ludington in 2010 with Johnny. While they loved competing, the thing they enjoyed the most was that time they spent together.
However, Johnny wanted to do some of the races on his own.
So, he set a goal for himself: he wanted to walk the last mile of the triathlon by himself. This was a lofty ambition–the farthest he had walked on his own was 23 steps. However, Becki and Jeff had always encouraged their kids to pursue their goals, no matter how impossible they seemed. So, Johnny trained for a year and half to be able to walk a mile on his own. He walked the last mile in a 5K and crossed the finish line.
Jeff and Johnny went on to compete in more and more ambitious races, including the Ironman World Championships back in 2016. These are among the most brutal endurance events in the world. Participants swim 2.4 miles, bike 112 miles, and then complete a marathon. Jeff would pull Johnny–and the equipment to pull him–behind him in all of these events, and Johnny would walk the last mile. However, halfway through the bike portion, Jeff and Johnny were pulled from the race due to time limitations. Instead of being disappointed, Johnny saw an opportunity for growth. “Sometimes you win, sometimes you learn,” Johnny said. Jeff and Johnny continued training, determined to finish a race.
At Ironman Maryland, Johnny walked across the finish line, proving that determination and perseverance will always win in the end.
The next competition on TeamAgar’s list is the Ironman World Championships in Hawaii in 2024, and Jeff and Johnny are determined to finish this triathlon. They’ve revamped their training room at home so that it’s equipped for Johnny and Jeff to train the best that they can.
Butler Electric fixed the lighting within the room and added outlets that will allow Jeff to watch TV while he bikes (usually for a continuous 5 hours) and allow Johnny to experience all aspects of what it’s like to be an athlete. The family was very grateful for the work that our team completed at their home, so much so that Johnny even added an electrical pun to his review of Butler Electric’s services: “You guys really ‘lit up’ our lives with the gym and making it possible for us; making it a space that my dad and I can use. You guys did a tremendous job, quickly and efficiently and we really appreciated it. We know it’s no small thing.”
If you are in need of electrical services, you can contact us at 616-643-8287. To follow TeamAgar and their journey to the World Championships in October 2024, you can go to TeamAgar.com or follow Johnny (@OfficialJohnny_Agar) and Jeff (@agarjeff). They are on social media and will be sharing updates on their training.