“It was Nothing. I was Just Worried about Her”

On 15 April 2013, 6-3, 293-pound Middle Tennessee State football player Darius Johnson, an offensive lineman, helped a female athlete at the Special Olympics at Middle Tennessee State University in Murfreesboro, Tennessee. Before she began competing in the 100-meter dash, Brittany Eyrich, a 10-year-old student at Northfield Elementary, wanted to get her photograph taken with Mr. Johnson. Theresa Eyrich, Brittany’s mother, said, “She loves football, but she usually doesn’t go up to anyone like that. But for some reason, she saw No. 75 and she really wanted to meet him and get a picture with him. He was so nice to her. Well, after that, she ran her 100-meter dash and got too hot at the end, and it threw her into a seizure. First her teacher [Karen Godwin] helped her, but we had to pick her up and move her quickly for her medicine.” Brittany has autism and epilepsy. She has medicine to take for her seizures, but the medicine needs to be administered in a private setting. Brittany weighs 130 pounds, more than her mother can carry, so her mother enlisted the help of Mr. Johnson, who bench-presses 465 pounds. Theresa said, “He scooped her up like a rag doll. But at first, she didn’t want anyone to pick her up. She said, ‘No, no, no.’ But then she saw it was No. 75, who she asked to get a picture with. So she let him pick her up, and he ran her to a safe place for us to take her medicine.” Mr. Johnson said, “I’ve never seen anyone have a seizure, so I just did whatever I could. At the beginning of the day, that’s not what I expected to be doing, helping a girl like that.” Mr. Johnson, who had suffered an injury in a scrimmage, was wearing a walking boot. He said, “I couldn’t feel my ankle anyway with that boot on. And I was just worried because they said they had to move her somewhere or it could be bad. I picked her up and ran as fast as I could to find a place to put her so she could take her medicine.” Brittany recovered from the seizure, and her mother called Mr. Johnson that evening. She said, “I called [Mr. Johnson] and thanked him from the bottom of my heart. He didn’t have to do what he did. Those seizures can get bad if she isn’t treated, but we couldn’t carry her. If he didn’t jump in there and help, it could have gotten very bad very quickly. And I just thought he should get the gratitude that he deserves.” Mr. Johnson said, “She just wanted to say how much she appreciated that. It was nothing. I was just worried about her.”

For Further Information: Adam Sparks, “MTSU football player saves girl at Special Olympics.” USA Today. 17 April 2013


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