GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — A West Michigan man who has defied the restraints of cerebral palsy got some unexpected attention Friday night when he was featured in an ad with Michael Phelps that aired during the Detroit Tiger’s broadcast.
Unbeknownst to John Agar, Under Armour put the ad together using a video produced by his loved ones. The video shows Agar, a 23-year-old from Rockford, preparing for and participating in marathons and triathlons. It airs atop similar shots of Phelps.
Dozens gathered to surprise Agar in an event staged at New Holland Brewing’s Knickerbocker Pub on Bridge Street in Grand Rapids.
The crowd gathered around the elevator to await Agar’s arrival. As the elevator doors opened, the room erupted in cheers. Agar, obviously shocked by the surprise, nearly slipped from his wheelchair and shouted in disbelief.
“I was completely amazed,” Agar said after the surprise. “It really is a testament to how good things like this can bring people together.”
The ad aired for the first time in the first commercial break after the start of Friday night’s Detroit Tigers game. Agar looked on in awe.
As the ad concluded he shouted.
“Yeah baby!” he said, as the crowd clapped and shouted.
For Agar’s mother Becki, it was another triumphant moment for her son.
“When we opened up that elevator door and he saw all that, it was like my moment to say ‘oh my gosh, I’m so proud of you,'” Becki Agar said. “It was a wonderful thing for him to be able to see the support.”
Under Armour representatives flew in from the East Coast to host the event. The company found out about Agar’s story after seeing it posted on social media.
“Yahoo! Sports put out a tweet and very quickly within the walls of Under Armour we were inspired and floored by the ability for Under Armour to be a part of what could be Johnny’s story,” Jasmine Maietta, senior director of global brand management for Under Armour told 24 Hour News 8. “His story is so compelling because it embodies the Under Armour brand spirit and we want to share that with more people.”
The ad will air on Fox Sports Detroit for the next few days. Under Armour planned to share it as well on its social media platforms. Under Armour said it planned to make a donation to a charity in John Agar’s honor.
John Agar said his hopes for the ad are simple.
“If it inspires one person,” he said, “then I think we’ve done our jobs.”