Johnna Throckmorton is the mother of Chase, 16, a freshman in high school. She also has a daughter, Karis, 12, in the seventh grade. (Editor’s note: To read an interview with Chase, see pg. 24 of the May 2009 issue of The O&P EDGE or www.oandp.com/edge. To read more about Johnna and Chase Throckmorton’s story, see “Spina Bifida: Making Mobility Happen,” in the May 2009 issue of The O&P EDGE or visit www.oandp.com/edge).
After Chase’s birth, doctors told her to prepare for the worst, but hope for the best. Sixteen years later, Chase is popular among both adults and peers, enjoys sports, and is doing well academically. “Everyone thinks he’s a great kid—I should say ‘young man’ now; he has a great personality and is fun to be around. He doesn’t think of himself as having a disability, and he wants to do everything everyone else does. He plays baseball like everyone else; of course, the others look out for him to make sure his wheelchair doesn’t flip and he gets hurt. He also was manager of the step team last year at his middle school.”
Although Throckmorton and Chase’s father are divorced, his dad is very much part of Chase’s and Karis’ lives. “Chase has a great relationship with his dad,” Throckmorton says.
Chase enjoys the fun and competition at the Virginia Victory Games. The Games were started in 1981, but when it appeared they would cease due to lack of volunteer support, Throckmorton stepped up to the plate to take over the organizing and operating and encouraged others to volunteer. “Chase was so heartbroken, thinking they might be over,” she recalls.
Besides the Virginia Victory Games (www.vavictorygames.org), Chase has participated in the Victory Junction Gang Camp (www.victoryjunction.org), founded by NASCAR driver Kyle Petty and his wife Patti in honor of their son Adam, a promising young driver who was killed during practice for a Busch Series race at New Hampshire International Speedway. Kyle Petty is part of a racing dynasty: famed champions Lee Petty and Richard Petty are his grandfather and father respectively.
The NASCAR-themed summer camp provides opportunities for fun, friendship, and lifetime memories for youngsters with disabilities. The camp has been a huge success, receiving strong support from the NASCAR community. Chase is looking forward to his third time this year. Not surprisingly, he is a big NASCAR fan and has participated in press conferences with Petty.
To help their children reach their goals and have happy, successful lives, Throckmorton says, “Be patient and be supportive. Be involved in their activities.” Besides the Virginia Victory Games, Throckmorton is involved with Challenge League basketball. “When the kids score a basket, it’s just so great seeing the huge smiles on their faces!”
Throckmorton also appreciates the help her daughter Karis provides. Among other things, she helps Chase with what he needs until their mother arrives home from work. “I don’t know what I would do without her,” Throckmorton says.
Reflecting on her life and children, she adds, “I feel very blessed.”