John is a passionate advocate for taking care of one’s mental health
Not surviving but thriving. John Edward Heath was born in Washington DC and spent a difficult childhood bouncing around foster care homes, and eventually fell in with the wrong crowd. In his senior year of high school, John realized he was becoming a statistic and had a choice to make, get it together, or go to jail. At age 17 John enlisted in the United States Marine Corps where he served nearly 10 years achieving the rank of Staff Sergeant. During this time, he became a passionate athlete, coach, and mentor at the Naval Academy.
On January 01, 2016, John was hit by a drunk driver, and the left side of his body was shattered. After 2 weeks in the hospital, he was sent home with extensive follow-up care required. Ultimately, the surgery done on his leg was not successful and after 12 surgeries he was still suffering from excruciating pain. On May 21, 2021, John had his 13th surgery, an amputation below the knee of his left leg. Not willing to be deterred he immediately returned to the gym and on May 27, 2021, a video of John doing a one-legged power clean went viral. Now, not even a year post-amputation, John is on track to qualify for the 2024 Paralympics in Track and Field, 2026 Paralympics Snowboarding, and the Adaptive CrossFit games.
John is a passionate advocate for taking care of one’s mental health and works with multiple charitable organizations to further that mission. His tireless work with MVP (Merging Veterans and Players), Helmets for Hope, and Sierra Delta Service Dogs are just a few.
For the last year, John has trained all over the country with some of the best coaches and athletes to gain knowledge and experience. He is on a mission to focus strictly on training and ensuring he is in the best shape possible to qualify for the US Paralympics team. Currently, John’s coaches for Track & Field/speed are Danny Chaille and Shae Lynn out of Black Sheep Performance Center in Blu Ash Ohio, and His CrossFit Coach is CrossFit Games Athlete Zach Watts out of CrossFit Illuminate in Loveland, Ohio.
Can you talk to us a bit about the challenges and lessons you’ve learned along the way? Looking back, would you say it’s been easy or smooth in retrospect?
No, every day is adversity. From funding for equipment (a new prosthetic), training, facilities, and rehab. To issues with my residual limb or prosthetic issues. I get a lot of cuts and blisters along with trauma to my residual limb with training.
2018 I lost my best friend to suicide, and in 2020 I lost my significant other to suicide. My road has been extremely difficult, but I have managed to keep a high spirit and keep my faith on God strong.