Boy with incurable disease uses spending money to help other children in need

Local

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — A boy with an incurable disease is spending his hard-earned money on children on the other side of the globe. But he’s not spending the money on toys. Instead, he’s buying kids items like chickens, alpacas and water wells — items that can change a life.

Joey Johnson’s pet project is giving children bicycles. But the bikes aren’t for fun, they are for girls in other countries so they can have safe and speedy transportation in order to avoid dropping out of school.

Joey is just 9 years old. He says he first saw images of other kids in need when he was seven and decided he wanted to help.

“That changed my entire image of my brain,” Joey said. “I saw these kids having rough times in their life, I need to help them out too.”

Joey’s a kid that many others might think he would be the one who needs help. He has mitochondrial disease. It’s genetic and there’s no cure for now.

The disease affects everything including energy and eating, but not his spirit.

“I even saw somebody that didn’t even get a birthday. I couldn’t imagine not getting a birthday,” Joey said.

So his extra money raised from Boy Scout popcorn sales and other work is going to a nonprofit called World Vision.

Joey’s initial vision was one bike. Almost $400 later, he’s now working on his fourth bike.

When World Vision heard about Joey, they set up his own donation page on their site.

“I never wanted their life to be small. I wanted them to know and experience the world and how other people live,” said Joey’s mother, Kelly Johnson, about Joey and his younger sister who has the same disease. “He’s got a taste for it, he’s got a taste for giving and he’s never turned back.”

Joey is a 4th grader at Kitley Elementary in Franklin Township.

He got a hospital bed last year to help him sleep and an electric wheelchair to help him get around.

“He (Joey) told me this has changed my life and I want somebody else to know what it feels like to be able to get around and not be hurt and tired,” said Kelly.

Other causes on his World Vision page have similar personal meaning like bed nets to help others sleep well and a deep well to provide water because even drinking can give him problems.

Giving didn’t skip a generation.

Joey’s family supports two children from World Vision right now, which is part of a tradition going back almost 20 years for Kelly.

Joey hopes to support three more children and keep the tradition going.

“I want people out there to be having a good life while they still have it and I want them to have a happy life,” he said.

He hopes spreading the word does just that to children around the world.

He’s a child with challenges who is helping complete strangers overcome their own obstacles.

“Other people need that more than I do,” Joey said.

“There are very few words to describe how proud I am of him,” said Kelly.

Kelly said her family is not wealthy but when you give from the heart you never miss it.

Click here to go to Joey’s World Vision donation page.

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