GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Johnny Agar’s his newest goal isn’t on the road — it’s online.
Agar, a West Michigan 22-year-old who has cerebral palsy, has been featured several times on 24 Hour News 8. He gained national attention in 2013 after ditching his wheelchair and walking the final mile of a 5K in Rockford. That was just the start of his accomplishments.
Now, he is working to help people like him. Agar built a website designed to help people with disabilities called Johnny’s Pass.
“I think the ultimate goal is to reach as many people as we can and try to go worldwide with this thing,” Agar told 24 Hour News 8 Monday.
He and his family created the site years ago, but it eventually ran out of steam. Now a sophomore at Aquinas College — and a Dean’s List student at that — Johnny presented the idea at school and a couple of professors pushed him to pursue it further.
The website is pretty simple: It’s a list of restaurants, stores, schools and more from all over. Each place is given ratings in different categories based on handicap accessibility.
“Knowing ahead of time and trying to plan ahead is just a great thing for someone to know,” Johnny’s father, Jeff Agar, told 24 Hour News 8.
The free site has about 400 reviews right now, but Johnny Agar hopes that increases to thousands. He encourages feedback and for people to submit ratings. The website’s growth depends on it. The Agar family reviews each submitted rating before posting to make sure spam isn’t posted on the site.
Meanwhile, his family has done the research and found there isn’t much like this on the web.
“Individual cities will have information about accessibility, but it doesn’t always get down to the business level,” Jeff Agar said. “The key is not to necessarily punish businesses where it’s not accessible — more of make it a market incentive.”
He said the handicapped population is growing, creating an even greater need for websites like this.
“I think you have a lot of facilities that they probably meet the technical requirements of the law, but it can be tough to navigate through in certain areas,” he said.
And at the heart of it all is Johnny, a young man who has helped other people simply by telling his story and with his attitude in the face of adversity. Now, he just wants to take that help one step further.
“It’s always been a goal of mine to make my disability a positive. Don’t ever make it negative. And so I think this way is going to really allow people to take advantage of their life,” he said.