Athlete Spotlight – Abbie Johnson: Redefining Resiliency
August 25, 2021 | Story by Megan Trexler | Commander, Navy Installations Command
WASHINGTON – MU3 (Ret.) Abbie Johnson joined the U.S. Navy in 2012. “I joined the Navy as a way to serve my country, perform at military events and to create music in a meaningful way,” said Johnson. She shared that music has always been a way for her to connect with people.
During the 2021 Team Navy Training Camp at Port Hueneme, California, Johnson shared how vital adaptive sports has helped in her personal recovery.
Johnson expressed that, “I was really struggling in the beginning of my recovery journey. I was grasping at any means possible, just to try and get by. I eventually realized that medication could only get me so far…and that’s when I started on the service dog journey and participating in adaptive sports.”
Johnson first met Kona, her service dog, when he was 3-months old. After bonding for a month, Kona was sent to service dog training, “Since then, Kona has been my full-fledged service dog and my sidekick,” said Johnson.
“After continuing down my recovery journey, with Kona at my side, I saw the benefits of participating in adaptive sports, not only for its athlete component, but also for the camaraderie and sense of family.” Johnson reminisced. “Growing up, I guess I would call myself athletic. But, I would say that I really became an athlete as a way to cope with the stress that I had in the military.”
Johnson, a veteran Team Navy athlete, has previously competed in two Department of Defense (DoD) Warrior Games. She competed in the 2016 DoD Warrior Games at the United States Military Academy in West Point, New York, and the 2018 DoD Warrior Games at the United States Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
Johnson believes that because she has been a runner for most of her life she has the fundamental tools to be successful in reaching her person goals when competing in adaptive sports.
Johnson said, “I have this dream, I want to run the world by completing the Seven Continent Quest and joining the Seven Continents Club.” The Seven Continents Club is a group for runners who have completed a marathon or half-marathon on seven continents. As of summer 2021, Johnson has completed marathons on six continents, including Antarctica, Asia, Australia, Europe, North America, and South America.
Johnson isn’t just a Department of Defense (DoD) Warrior Games medalist or avid marathon runner, she also holds the 2021 Miss World America title. Through her various platforms, Johnson encourages active duty military and veterans to explore using in their recovery journey.
Navy Wounded Warrior is the Navy’s sole organization for coordinating the non-medical care of seriously wounded, ill and injured Sailors and Coast Guardsmen and providing resources and support to their families.
The Warrior Games are a Paralympic-style competition among more than 200 wounded, ill and injured service members from all branches of the U.S. military, as well as from international armed forces. The 2021 Department of Defense Warrior Games would have been hosted at Disney’s ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando, Florida from September 12-22, 2021. The invitation-only event was going to feature 12 sports: archery, cycling, field, golf, indoor rowing, powerlifting, shooting (precision air), sitting volleyball, swimming, track, wheelchair basketball and wheelchair rugby. The 2021 DoD Warrior Games were canceled due to ensure the safety, health and well-being of our service members and local communities as the COVID-19 Delta variant continues to affect the country.