Teri `Rene' Johnston : Determination Keeps Girl's Dreams on Track

Article excerpt

When 17-year-old Teri "Rene" Johnston was 9, she was struck by a teen-age drunken driver who ran a traffic light. The accident left Johnston paralyzed from the waist down.

"For nine months after I got out of the hospital, I thought all my dreams of being a high school athlete and cheerleader were gone," she said.

Johnston's high pluck level, combined with family support, enabled her to pursue her dream - on wheels. Two years after the accident, she joined the St. Louis Wheelchair Athletic Association, where she began to compete in basketball tournaments and track-and-field competitions. In the past five years, Johnston has competed in annual Junior National Athletic Wheelchair track-and-field championships. More than 300 wheelchair athletes separated into age, skill and gender categories vie for discus, shot put and javelin medals among others. In Orlando, Fla., in 1992, Johnston broke four track-and-field records in her class. Recently, Johnston was notified that she will represent the United States as one of 25 American wheelchair athletes at the Australian Junior National Wheelchair Championships in Melbourne, Australia. Johnston was selected from 250 U.S. applicants. The American team will join 300 Australian wheelchair athletes for the competition in April. Johnston said the Americans will be eligible to win medals in the Australian competition but not to set records, according to association rules. …