Meet Jenene Johnson: mother, grandmother, teacher for deaf/deafblind children, marathoner and inspirational champion for athletes and deaf athletes everywhere. Jenene says "the sky is the limit," and today we're here to show you she's truly the embodiment of limitlessness. Besides already being a full-time teacher devoted to empowering her students to develop skills and knowledge to succeed as global citizens, she is training for the London Marathon not only to inspire and raise awareness for the deaf community, but also to raise money for the National Deaf Children's Society.
JJ: I got into running after my mom passed away from breast cancer. To honor her, of her I ran my very first 5K, which was Mother's Day 5K. I then fell in love with the feeling of the whole thing. I've played team sports, like: basketball, volleyball, and cheerleading, but running is an individual sport where I'd have to rely on myself...and I'm a very independent person so this suits me perfectly.
ZS: What motivates you?
JJ: Knowing that running comes with so many benefits! My top motivation out of all is to keep in shape, go to places running races, and being able to run! I honestly hated track back in high school, but not any more!
ZS: Can you give us some insight on being a deaf runner and how you’re inspiring those around you?
JJ:Being a deaf runner is just like any runner really, except that I don't use headphones, =) butinspiringothers especially the deaf community where they'd have the language access in ASL in sharing all about my running training and race experiences. Sharing all the medals I've earned is a great feeling, and I love inspiring others into getting a better healthy lifestyle.
ZS: Can you tell us a little about The National Deaf Children's Society (NDCS)?
JJ:It's the leading charity for deaf children worldwide. NDCS is to help spread awareness about deafness and to help break barriers that many children are facing. Many deaf children are language-deprived and are facing barriers to information and education, and by running London Marathon I get to raise funds for this amazing charity!
ZS: What does running in the London Marathon mean to you?
JJ:Running in London will mean a lot to me for a few reasons, firstly is my 50th birthday on the 30th of September which is two days before the big day of London Marathon, I will be running the marathon as a newly 50 year old lady! =)
Secondly, I LOVE to travel and go to places and London will be my first overseas race and my 5th marathon. Thirdly, I have deaf friends in London that I would really love to finally meet in person! We have communicated over Glide and FaceTime for a few years! We'll finally get to meet in person!!
Cool thing is that they sign in BSL (British Sign Language)while I sign in ASL (American Sign Language). I have been practicing some BSL signs! Lastly, is to bring my family! My husband and my two kids! We're all deaf except my daughter. We're hoping to visit a couple deaf schools in London. I would love for my 15 year old son to meet deaf kids and for me to meet deaf education teachers there.
HOW CAN YOU HELP JENENE GET TO LONDON?
Jenene is organizing a fundraiser to help she and her family go to London! Every donation counts, and if you're not able to donate...sharingthis link and blog post will already help raise awareness!!
ZS: Zensah’s motto is #withoutlimitz meaning we want you to feel limitless in everything you do. We have a campaign called “Limitless Looks Like This” because limitlessness can look different for every person. Limitless might look like finding balance, reaching goals, acing the race you have coming up, or manifesting your future. What does limitless look like for you?
JJ:For me, limitless looks like not letting anything get in the way.If you want to pursue something just GO FOR IT!!! The sky's the limit! You'll have to break barriers before you know what will limit you! Regardless, if I'm deaf I sure can run a marathon! I used to think I couldn’t, until I tried and I cried because I waited too long to do so! So, my tip is: time doesn't wait for you! Go out and do what you love!