The Canal Winchester Times

CWHS officials accept B-Rock's bucket challenge

Fundraiser aided middle school student scheduled for bone marrow transplant

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Kent Riggs, student activities coordinator at Canal Winchester High School, grimaces Brock Johnson and Tucker Johnson dump ice water over his head Aug. 28 at the high school stadium. The “Ice Bucket Challenge” was a fundraiser to help the Johnson family with medical expenses associated with Brock’s upcoming bone marrow transplant.

Canal Winchester Middle School students paid $1 each last week to see high school Principal Kirk Henderson, assistant principals Greg Lahr and Deborah Finck, and Student Activities Coordinator Kent Riggs showered with ice water.

But this "Ice Bucket Challenge" was not to benefit the ALS Association.

Instead, the beneficiary was Brock Johnson, a 13-year-old eighth-grader battling a mysterious autoimmune disorder. Money raised from the challenge will help the Johnson family pay medical bills.

Brock was given the honor of drenching Henderson, Lahr and Finck Aug. 28 at the Canal Winchester High School stadium.

Henderson said he has had the "privilege" of knowing Brock since he was born.

"I have never seen anyone face so much adversity with a constant smile on their face. He is an example to us all that we should cherish and embrace each day the good Lord has given us," Henderson said.

On Sept. 8, Brock will enter Nationwide Children's Hospital to undergo chemotherapy to prepare his body for a bone marrow transplant a week later.

"I'm excited because if all goes well, I'll be perfectly healthy and no more medicine," Brock said.

Since shortly after his birth, Brock has suffered from an unknown autoimmune disease.

"He is missing half of his immune system," his mother, Kristi Johnson, said. "His blood does not clot well and he has several other health problems like liver disease, stomach bleeds and cataracts in both his eyes."

As a result of all these physical challenges, Brock has had 25 surgeries; takes 14 medications each day; undergoes periodic transfusions to strengthen his immune system, red blood and platelet counts; and gives himself a shot once a week.

To aid the process, doctors inserted a port -- or an "Iron Man button," as Brock calls it -- into his chest, through which the medications are administered.

Brock makes monthly trips to the National Institute of Health in Bethesda, Md., to see medical specialists who are trying to find a treatment for his rare illness.

"They always tell me if I had his hemoglobin, I wouldn't get out of bed every day, but he doesn't know anything different. He's pretty positive and driven," Kristi Johnson said.

Brock is so driven that he gets straight A's in school, plays on a travel baseball team, made the middle school basketball team last year, enjoys golf, and even played full-contact football until his spleen became so enlarged that it was risky for him to continue.

While that challenge sidelined him from the game, the young man known to students, teachers and staff as "B-Rock," still plays flag football and has been the high school football "assistant coach" for several years.

Shawn Hinkle, former high school head football coach and eighth-grade social studies teacher, said B-Rock is one of the best role models he has ever known.

"Brock always has a great attitude and looks at the positive, no matter what he is involved with," Hinkle said. "I said this before, and I maintain that we could all learn from B-Rock. He definitely lifts the spirits of everyone around him."

Seventh-grade basketball coach Willie Jordan said B-Rock never wants special treatment and that he approaches every challenge like a champion.

"He is the kind of young man every parent would want their kids to become," Jordan said.

With surgery just weeks away, Brock was looking forward to getting in one more baseball game over the Labor Day weekend.

The B-Rock's Bullpen Tournament in Canal Winchester was scheduled to benefit its namesake.

By last Thursday, Aug. 28, more than $10,000 had been raised to help the Johnson family through fundraising dinners and the sale of T-shirts and bracelets.

Community members who want to join B-Rock's Bullpen can still order shirts through the B-Rock's Bullpen Facebook page or donate through the PayPal account

"Brock Johnson is truly an inspiration to us all," Canal Winchester Middle School Principal Tracie Lees said. "Every day he comes to school with a smile on his face, exudes a love for learning, and spreads joy to everyone around him.

"Truly, Brock is a role model, not only to our students but to the staff as well. Our thoughts and prayers are with our brave young man at this time," Lees added.