Something special is happening in the Treasure Valley, Boise and the Northwest. Every once in a while you encounter that rare opportunity that you had no idea existed because of someone's heart for children with disabilities. It kind of takes you back to a place where hope truly exist. In a world where it's truly needed.
Three years ago if you had asked anyone if they had known of any programs that existed to connect Kids with disabilities to High school sports programs, most would have probably said, No such thing would be possible yet even necessary, but deep down needed.
Let's back up a couple of years. I mean we all get ideas, dreams and visions but one mans heart was really the tipping point for this to become a possibility. In a world that wants all to dream small, one Coach began to make his big dream a hugely impactful reality.
Meet Juss Jackson, just your average everyday guy who is a coach but has a huge heart for making kids who sometimes can feel like belonging is impossible, possible.
Through one mans Struggle with Tragic loss, Juss turned Tragedy into Triumph when he founded his Non- Profit Organization called 4TheAbility.
Justin Jackson (Coach Juss) was born and raised in Los Angeles, CA. He attended college at Boise State University in Boise, Idaho and began coaching football at Timberline High School, in Boise in 2012 which became the birthplace of #4TheAbility in 2014.
#4TheAbility was inspired by two close people that he tragically lost in his life, Brittiana Henderson, a friend of his and Breon Taylor, his big sister. It began as a motivation for athletes to understand, “You must put in effort, to achieve your goals.
"We grind #4TheAbility to be great".
Soon after, Coach Juss thought that would be a great way to encourage more people and soon influence lives. A few months later, he met Sam Lee, an amazing young man who suffers from a rare connective tissue disorder called EDS, and got his first ever ‘#4TheAbility Kid.’ Coach Juss saw an opportunity to change lives one kid at a time. In Juss's own words:
"When you lose two people that could have made an enormous positive impact in the world, you want to make sure every kid out there has the opportunity to leave their mark on society".
I've had the privilege of being a parent of one of these special children like Sam. My Son Jacob was born with a Heart condition called Dilated cardiomyopathy in which his left ventricle is severely diseased. In June of 2005 Jacob almost died from Heart failure but was able to be brought out of it due to amazing care by his doctors. Now that Jacob is 12 and stable he suffers from severe fatigue and struggles daily to find energy and balance to do the things he enjoys like football and other sports. Jacob often notices how different he is than others when it come to energy and stamina and also having a heart that just doesn't work 100 percent.
Of course details are always different but one day early in 2016 my wife got a Text from Coach Juss asking if our son Jacob would be interested in Becoming a part of the Meridian Warriors high school football program in Meridian Idaho through an awesome program called 4TheAbility.
Through this Amazing program kids like Sam and My Son Jacob and many other kids with disabilities along with their families are able to connect their children with something that makes them feel a sense of normalcy. A feeling not often found in the world of being a parent with a kid from a rough place.
This weekend July 8 will be the first 4TheAbility Framp Camp. A 2 day camp that will connect athletes of all ages and varying skill with the Amazing 4TheAbility kids that Juss has invested so much care and time into. This isn't just any camp.
This could very well be one of the Top 7 on 7 camps in the Northwest in the very near future. Some of the top position quarterbacks around the northwest and top position players will come to Mountain View High School in Meridian Idaho to get training and works outs from top current and former NFL players like Justin Babineaux, and former Boise State Football Alum Raphael Lambert, Shane Williams Rhodes, Troy Bacon, Sam McCaskill, and Coach Justin Jackson himself. But the most amazing part will be the Participation of all the kids that call 4TheAbility, a life change for the season. kids like Sam, Karston, Prescott, Jace, Victor, and many others including my son Jacob.
Sometimes when we experience tragedy in our lives how do we respond? Do we still dare to dream big, or take our tough situations and turn them into something bigger than ourselves.
Surely Juss has done just that, and his vision continues to grow Beautifully out of his personal ashes.
Coach Justin Jackson (Juss)
"4TheAbility is a life style. I want the message to get around that special needs kids are just like us, maybe even stronger. The abilities that they have are used more often for them because life isn't always guaranteed. I want 4theability to be something everybody is excited about for months, not just a day of somebody's wish coming true, but a entire season being apart of something. I just push 4theability to change to change lives".