One Man’s Gift of Giving Has No Boundaries
Imagine you read a story about a young child in need.
What would you do?
For Al Johnston, it was a no-brainer. He sprung into action and not only contacted the proper authorities but also advised his nephew of the situation. A little while later, Al’s nephew adopted the little boy. That was over 30 years ago. The boy who we will call “Kenny” has cerebral palsy and utilizes his wheelchair to fully participate in activities. Kenny now has a girlfriend and stays in contact with Al and his wife on what’s happening in his life. Knowing that Kenny is happy makes Al feel good inside.
In the 1950’s, Al was introduced to the challenges that disability presents when his son developed Polio. His son could not walk and needed medical attention. After being approached by two Shriners, he took his son to the Shriner’s hospital for an operation. Al was so grateful for the Shriner’s help that he joined their organization as part of the Khartum Komedians in 1964. His joy was entertaining children with disabilities as a clown. According to Al, “we all have a purpose in life. For me, volunteering has been a labour of love.”
Al has been a loyal supporter within the community, giving his time and financial resources for more than 40 years. His reasons for giving are quite simple. “I give to charity and in particular SMD because individuals with disabilities need our support. I know first hand how a disability can affect your life. I’m grateful to have the opportunity to give back and never expect anything in return.”
Al is not only a devoted volunteer but his commitment to his wife Esther spans 62 years. His love for her is evident by the twinkle in his eye when he speaks about her. Esther began utilizing the Parking Permit Program administered by SMD when she developed Vertigo about eight years ago. Since then Al has taken an active role in notifying drivers that park without a pass by issuing a friendly warning notice on their windshield. Al is strongly opposed to people taking advantage of these designated spots and believes the service he provides is delivers his message much gentler than a fine by city police.
Even now at the age of 82, Al prides himself on having his calendar full of places to go and people to help. He can still be seen shoveling snow or cutting grass for his neighbors in need. To him, it’s just a way of life and although he has slowed down a bit he has no intention of stopping his giving ways anytime soon!