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Published on December 15th, 2017 | by Chloe Forssell

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Beloved Joe Johnson hospitalized

The Samo community is rallying to help their beloved security guard, Joe Johnson, heal in any way possible after suffering a stroke in his sleep two weeks ago. While doctors are doing their best to speed Johnson’s recovery, students and parents are desperate to find any way to support Johnson and his family during this tough time.

Johnson is known as a kind-hearted man who has brought happiness and laughter to a multitude of SMMUSD school campuses throughout the past decade. Students have fond memories of him coaching their elementary volleyball teams and cracking hilarious jokes in the middle school hallways. He has certainly made his mark on the heart of Annalise Wille (’20), who has grown up with Johnson.

“I’ve known Joe since I was in elementary school and he knows my entire family really well. He’s always been nothing but kind and caring to us, so this is so awful to hear about. We are all sending our love and our prayers for Joe every day,” Wille said.

To soften the blow of Johnson’s expenses, families within the SMMUSD community have rallied to fundraise for his medical needs. A fundraising page was created by PTA members Yolanda Lewis and Danica Jamieson with a goal of ten thousand dollars. Within less than a week, the website had not only reached but exceeded its goal. The funds are continuing to rise, and are currently well above eleven thousand dollars. The donations will be used for not only Johnson’s medical needs, but also to cover the cost of his mother’s travel to the Los Angeles hospital from her home in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Jamieson is thrilled by the overwhelming support from Samo families, and is hopeful that the Samo community will make an impact.

“We want Joe to focus his energy on recovery, hence our decision as a community to raise money for him to help alleviate some of the stress that could delay or impede his recovery and rehabilitation. To help Joe without spending money, students can be creative and make cards, songs, poems. We will start a meal train when he is transferred to the rehab facility.,” Jamieson said.

Principal Dr. Antonio Shelton has been deeply touched by the incident and has visited Johnson in the hospital multiple times in the past week. He is one of the many members of the Samo community who is constantly rooting for Johnson’s recovery, and he has words of wisdom for those who want to do their part but aren’t sure how to help out.

“Truthfully, anything will help a great deal. I think that it’s very important that we, as a community, not only focus on Joe’s health but also on making sure his mother is able to get to Los Angeles and stay here, because having his mother nearby is a major support for him as he recovers. As a school community, the most important thing is that we support her in her efforts to support Joe. Whatever needs there are, whether it’s as small as a donating a free dinner or a gift card, will be a great help,” Shelton said.

Shelton also shared a humorous and warm hearted anecdote about a recent visit with Johnson in the hospital.

“When I went to talk to Joe, I told him that people at Samo were all coming together to help him out, and he had a smile on his face. Despite not being able to speak, he balled his fist up and gave me a big ‘ol fist bump. It was great,” Shelton said.

The Samo community is continuing to send their love and wishes as they pray for Johnson’s speedy recovery. He still has a long, rocky journey ahead of him as he continues to struggle with his medical issues, however he is in the hands of expert medical professionals who are doing all they can to quicken his recovery. PTA member Yolanda Lewis spoke about Johnson’s current state on the fundraising website with a hopeful perspective.

“Gratefully, Joe is on his road to recovery but it is going to be a long and difficult one. He is still in ICU but he has awakened from his medicated sleep and is recognizing people and holding their hand. Rest assured that the stroke specialist caring for Joe at Glendale Adventist is one of the best in the country!” Lewis said.

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