Academic Magnet shows support for coach battling leukemia

Johnson with his wife and two sons (Source: Emily Johnson)
Johnson with his wife and two sons (Source: Emily Johnson)
T-shirt designed by parents and basketball players, and sold to raise money (Source: Live 5)
T-shirt designed by parents and basketball players, and sold to raise money (Source: Live 5)

NORTH CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - Students, coaches, and faculty at Academic Magnet High School will show support at Friday's home basketball games for one of the school's coaches who is battling Leukemia.

Brian Johnson, a teacher at Charleston County's School of the Arts and AMHS's Varsity Boys Cross Country coach, was diagnosed with the cancer in December.

Friday, AMHS Principal Judith Peterson and Athletic Director, Curtis Hoffman, will present The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society Team in Training program with a check in honor of Johnson.

"At first I was extremely shocked, because he's such a healthy guy," said sophomore cross country runner Lyle Johnson. "I wasn't expecting something like that, but then I was more reassured because I knew he's a strong guy and he's going to fight through it."

"Coach Brian Johnson is more than a coach," said Jennifer Gomez, a parent of an AMHS cross-country runner. "He has an indescribable impact on all of his students and athletes, as a role model, mentor, and friend. As such we are anxious to help however we can."

Over the last several weeks the boys' basketball teams along with their coaches have been selling "Raptor Hoops from the Heart" t-shirts to raise money.

"Our parents took and our basketball boys took hold of this and sold the t-shirts," said Academic Magnet Principal Judith Peterson.

"It's great," said freshman cross country runner Sully Gholson. "Just to see how much of a community we have at Academic Magnet, and see how everyone can come together from different sports, different coaches, different players, and just support everyone."

According to an event organizer, the school has pledged to donate a portion of the proceeds of all tickets sold to fans wearing those t-shirts at the game Friday night.

Johnson provided this statement ahead of Friday's games:

"I have been grateful to coach for Academic Magnet the past five years. Throughout this time, I have been blessed with support from their community of students, faculty, administrators, and parents. This even is an example of how AMHS pulls together to help each other out when needed. Our entire family is very appreciative of their efforts to support us and raise awareness of leukemia."

While Johnson had that message for the school community – they had some messages for him also.

"Coach Johnson, thank you for just encouraging me in my first year of cross country, and really inspiring me to do my best," Gholson said.

"Keep what you're doing coach," Johnson added. "Keep fighting through, and I can't wait until you're better to get back out there."

"Take it one day at a time and thank you so much for being an amazing role model," said freshman cross country runner Eli LeRoy.

"He's a runner, and he's gonna run this race and he's going to finish well," Peterson said.

The check will be presented during halftime of the Varsity Boys Basketball game versus Gerrett High School. Coach Johnson will be watching via Facetime while members of his family will be in attendance.

The varsity boy's game is scheduled for an 8 p.m. start.

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