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Vance Johnson Speaks From the Heart to Local Kids

Relating to the Crowd at LMS

Relating to the Crowd at LMS

Former Bronco wide receiver star, Vance Johnson, one of the original Three Amigos, knows how to develop a rapport with a crowd. Whether it was tens of thousands of fans in Bronco Stadium back in the late 1980s or this past Thursday at the Lamar Middle School gym, Johnson has an appeal that can relate to an audience.

Johnson, Lori Hammer and Commissioner Buxton-Andrade

Johnson, Lori Hammer and Commissioner Buxton-Andrade

His football days are behind him, but his new career has come from his personal experiences, unfortunately derived from great personal pain. He now spends his time leading motivational seminars around the country, focusing on various forms of addiction, from alcohol to drugs and the best means of dealing with forms of dependency.

Johnson Imparts a Heartfelt Message of Hope

Johnson Imparts a Heartfelt Message of Hope

Moments before he began his message, Johnson opened his IPAD and started talking to the students in the stands and recording their responses. In just a couple of moments he had their undivided attention and just prior to that moment, he spoke briefly about how he arrived at his new career  and purpose in life,  “It’s been almost four years now that I’ve been sober and now I’m following God’s journey for me.  I want to be able to go out across the country to speak and offer hope to those struggling with alcohol addiction and more recently the use of heroin.  This type of activity needs to be broken.  We need to reach our youngsters and show them a path to follow that doesn’t lead to substance abuse.”

Prowers County Commissioner, Wendy Buxton-Andrade, a member of the HOPE Coalition in Lamar, said Johnson met with high school students at 10am Thursday morning and took the time to briefly shake each student’s hand and then spoke at length about matters of concern to today’s youth.  “He has a message that’s geared to different age groups,” she explained, adding that the rest of Johnson’s visit to Lamar would be spent in seminars at the Lamar Community Building until around 4pm with Rob Lohman, founder of Lifted from the Rut, and again from 6:30pm to 7:30 that evening.

Lori Hammer, the executive Director of Project HOPE, which has been headquartered in the former Lincoln Elementary School on North 10th Street for the past several years, said Johnson’s visit to town began with a simple message on facebook she posted.  “There was a drug overdose death in Lamar recently and I thought there had to be something that could start to change these events.  I posted a message on his facebook and then got a phone call from Vance Johnson’s wife.  We spoke and I explained our purpose at the HOPE Center and we made arrangements and now, here he is.”

Johnson said it took a lot of sacrifice and personal discipline to make it to the top levels of the NFL with the Broncos and wanted to speak to those kids who may be just coasting through their school careers without any goals or incentives. “You have to realize that you still have to work just as hard behind the scenes when no one is paying as much attention as they did before.  My faith has sustained me and I want these kids to realize in some small measure that they have the ability to do it too,” he stated.

By Russ Baldwin

 

 

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