Joey Johnston's Recovery
For updates on Joey's progress, please visit and like the Facebook Page, Prayers for Joey: https://www.facebook.com/prayersforjoeyjohnston/
On July 8, 2018, Westchase resident Joey Johnston experienced an accident with life-changing repercussions.
Leaping from a high structure into a body of water with two friends, Joey fractured his spine and broke his neck.
A gifted athlete and baseball player, Joey is a sophomore and proud Raven at Alonso High School. Joey’s parents are Angela Johnston and Joey Johnston of The Shires. Joey Johnston, Sr., was a well-known sports writer for the Tampa Tribune before its closure. He has since worked as talented, committed writer for World of Westchase (WOW) and many other media outlets. As a private contractor and “stringer,” however, Joey, Sr., does not receive employee benefits.
Young Joey is known to many in the Westchase and Tampa community. He attended Westchase Elementary and Davidsen Middle School and participated in Keystone Little League. With Keystone's All-Stars, Joey won three consecutive state titles and came within one game of participating in the Little League World Series.
His accident has profoundly impacted Joey and the Johnston family. While hopeful for a complete recovery, Joey, recuperating at Johns Hopkins Children’s Hospital in St. Petersburg, currently has no feeling or movement from his chest down. He faces significant medical treatment, surgery and extensive physical therapy. His road to recovery will be a very long one. Meanwhile, the financial impact on his family is enormous, from both his parents’ loss of work so they can care for Joey to his extensive medical expenses.
The community of Westchase, as represented by WOW staff members Chris Barrett and Leslie Blaze, has put together this fundraising page to enable the caring folks of Tampa Bay and Westchase and all of the Johnston's friends and family members -- from places like Montana and Georgia to Greece and Argentina -- to lend a supportive hand to Joey and his parents. We welcome all financial contributions, of any size, to help pay for Joey’s care and recuperation. You can be assured that everything donated, beyond GoFundMe’s roughly 3% collection fee, will be given to the Johnstons.
The Johnstons have been an integral part of Westchase and greater Tampa Bay. We hope that you’ll join our efforts to show support to a wonderful, generous family in their great time of need.
Thank you for your consideration and your generosity.
Leaping from a high structure into a body of water with two friends, Joey attempted a backflip. On impact with the water’s surface, he fractured his spine and broke his neck. He was rushed to Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital, where he was quickly stabilized. Later that week, he successfully underwent two surgeries to fuse the vertebrae, but the work had just begun.
Since July 26, Joey has been at the Shepherd Center in Atlanta, the world’s leading facility for spinal-cord injuries. His progress has been nothing short of remarkable. For many weeks, Joey was unable to help himself. He now has almost full use of his left hand and arm. His right hand is coming back at a slower rate, but Joey can feed himself, brush his teeth and use his phone while playing catch with a rubber baseball (left-handed for now). He can roll over, steady himself and transfer into his bed.
Each day, he undergoes rigorous sessions of physical and occupational therapy. For weeks, he had been using a power wheelchair, but now uses a manual chair, another very positive step that indicates his growing independence and physical strength.
Joey, who turns 16 on Oct. 15, remains paralyzed below the waist. There has been some sensation in his toes and thighs. We remain hopeful for a full recovery, but spinal-cord injuries are extremely unpredictable and methodical. Hard work is a given. Even more, it requires extraordinary faith, patience and positivity.
Joey is expected to complete his inpatient term at the Shepherd Center in early October. Then he will transition into the “day program,’’ maintaining an outpatient schedule that will be even more demanding. At night, instead of a hospital room, Joey will stay with his parents in the Shepherd Center’s campus housing. The length of his program is uncertain, but Joey likely will remain in Atlanta until right before Thanksgiving, at which time he could return to his Westchase home for the first time since mid-summer.
Therapy will continue at a Tampa facility. Depending on Joey’s progress, he could return for further work at the Shepherd Center. In the interim, he will attempt to keep pace in school. Joey, a sophomore at Alonso High School, is known to many in the Westchase and Tampa Bay community. He attended Westchase Elementary and Davidsen Middle School while participating with the Keystone Little League All-Star baseball team. From 2013-15, Joey and his Keystone teammates built a youth baseball dynasty, winning an unprecedented three consecutive state titles and coming within two games of reaching the Little League World Series.
A gifted athlete and baseball player, Joey made the Alonso varsity as a freshman, where he also compiled a 4.2 grade-point average. Joey’s parents are Angela Johnston and Joey Johnston, who moved to Westchase during the community’s infancy. The father was a well-known sports writer for the Tampa Tribune before its 2016 closure. He has continued as a writer, including covering his direct community through the monthly World of Westchase (WOW) magazine. He also serves as a radio broadcaster for the University of South Florida’s football and basketball programs. The mother is a longtime pharmacist at Tampa’s James A. Haley Veterans Hospital.
Joey’s accident has profoundly impacted the Johnston family, which is preparing for significant medical treatment and extensive physical therapy. His road to recovery will be a long one and his peripheral goal is to maintain his schoolwork — first online, then a planned returned to Alonso — so he can graduate as expected in 2021 before entering college.
The financial impact on his family is enormous. It includes the loss of work for his parents, plus the extensive medical expenses, which will continue and even accelerate upon his return to Tampa.
The community of Westchase, as represented by WOW staff members Chris Barrett and Leslie Blaze, has put together this fundraising page to enable the caring folks of Tampa Bay and Westchase — plus family members and friends in places such as Ohio, Montana, Georgia, Greece and Argentina — to lend a supportive hand to Joey and his parents. We welcome all financial contributions, of any size, to help pay for Joey’s care and recuperation.
You can be assured that everything donated (beyond GoFundMe’s roughly 3% collection fee), will be given to the Johnston family.
The Johnston family has been an integral part of Westchase and the greater Tampa Bay area. We hope that you will join our efforts to show support to a wonderful, generous family in their great time of need.
Thank you for your consideration and generosity.
If you would like to keep up with Joey’s daily progress, which includes photos, please follow the Facebook page: Prayers for Joey