Aquinas player looks to bring awareness on and off football field

Published: Sep. 16, 2022 at 11:40 PM EDT
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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - For many athletes, playing sports gives them the chance to spread positivity and look to bring awareness of issues off the field.

We caught up with Duncan Johnson, who’s looking to spread positivity and hope for kids battling cancer.

“Duncan quietly accepts the role of being a gentle giant, and we are very grateful,” said his mom Kaci.

She is her son’s biggest fan. He’s easy to root for being a leader, standing 6 foot 4 on the field… he’s a beast.

Johnson is an offensive and defensive tackle at Aquinas High School.

“I want them to know I’m ready to play, and I’m trying to win, and I’m going to do whatever it takes to get there,” he said.

The road to get to where he is today wasn’t easy.

When Duncan was three, he was diagnosed with cancer, and from there, so many unknowns.

Kaci said: “When your child is diagnosed at whatever age, you are told everything under the sun, in regards to what the chemotherapy could potentially do to their bodies.”

Duncan is now cancer free. Long-term effects of chemotherapy and cancer are still around.

A new way to mitigate his heat problems is through a helmet with AC called Tigeraire. Duncan has only played one half with it.

“It was a lot better than playing a half without it. You know, it was a lot cooler, it was easier to think. It was, it was just great,” said Duncan.

Even without the new helmet, Head Coach James Leonard says he still gave it his all.

“For somebody like Duncan to come out here and play as hard as he does and play as well as he does, I think it shows those kids don’t give up. If they keep fighting, they can beat it. They can play football, play whatever sport they want to do, do whatever they want to do when they grow up,” he said.

Hard work has paid off as Duncan is getting recruited to play in college, which he says if he gets the opportunity, it’ll be another way to keep inspiring kids to keep fighting.

“I want them to see that you can. You can do it. Wherever you start. It doesn’t matter. It matters where you finish and what you do in between,” he said.