John Jarrett is ’Dynamic’
John Jarrett’s motivation is matched only by his compassion and enthusiasm for helping families in his Georgia community.
John, who wears Fillauer’s Custom Dynamic Walk, is the founder of Atlanta Leadership Club, a nonprofit that empowers families in underserved communities through character-building programs.
He’s also a globally ranked adaptive CrossFit athlete. He started competing in this division in 2019 after discovering the adaptive athlete community. John has foot drop, a lasting reminder of an injury he suffered during a run in 2014.
“I stepped in a pothole and tore the entire knee – ACL, PCL, MCL, etc. and damaged the peroneal nerve causing permanent injury”, John explained. “Pretty much my whole knee was destroyed.”
It was devastating, and John knew he’d have to adapt if he wanted to continue being active. But adapting wasn’t new to him.
“I grew up in what I think of as a global community,” he explained. “When I was young my dad was a pilot, so we traveled a lot. He even sent each of my brothers and I to Argentina to live for a year without them. We had to just kind of figure it out. I’ve lived all over the place since, so I know how to learn and adjust.”
And that’s just what he did. After a month-and-a-half in a hospital bed, he began a journey to recovery and was eventually introduced to CPO, Shane Grubbs of Procare Prosthetics.
John and Shane tried several brace options to support his training needs initially, but none could stand up to his exercise regimen.
“I was having to replace my brace all the time,” he explained. “But when Shane fit me with the Dynamic Walk, everything changed. It’s incredible to have a brace that lasts and doesn’t hinder my performance. I can’t rave enough about it, honestly. I’ve even stopped someone in the airport before to make sure they knew about it.”
Now a hopeful qualifier for the 2021 WheelWod Adaptive CrossFit Games, John has also been using his time in the gym to lift not only weights, but the spirits of youth in Atlanta.
“During my stay in the hospital, I couldn’t help but wonder if what I was doing with my life was making a difference,” John explained, “and that was the beginning of my volunteering efforts and the eventual decision to launch Atlanta Leadership Club.”
Through Atlanta Leadership Club (ALC), around 40 children from underserved communities join for mentorship programs, camps, and activities to help them grow as young people. The company also provides an outlet and resources to their families, be it groceries, help with utility bills, or just someone to talk to.
In 2020, camps became untenable and even impossible due to the pandemic. So, John found a way to merge his dual passions and began a CrossFit program. His local gyms Crossfit Downtown Atlanta, Crossfit Terminus, and Crossfit Identity all agreed to give free access to ALCs participants so they could begin their fitness journey.
“I’ve realized that one hour in the gym, united in our physical pains and triumphs, is sometimes as good as days at camp when it comes to building relationships and community in the participants,” he shared. “We bond, and that’s what has made it such a great opportunity.”
Whether through CrossFit or other creative ideas, John and his wife, Beth, hope ALC continues to impact at-risk kids and their families for decades to come.
“Our vision is that we can mentor students in our community for as long as possible, with the eventual goal of having someone who has been through the program and is from the community take over and continue to ‘pay it forward.’”