ST. CLOUD -- For 16-year-old Riley Johnson sports is a way of life.

"I watch pretty much all sports. My favorite team is the Minnesota Vikings"

Like most teenagers, Johnson has always wanted to participate in sports. However, a condition known as Arthrogryposis --stiffness in the joints-- made his chances slim.

Kim Johnson is Riley's mother and says she never thought her son would be able to participate in athletics.

"When he was born we didn't think that would ever happen."

But it did when Johnson was introduced to Power Soccer.

"I found out about it at an expo. I tried it out for a little bit and I knew this was going to be pretty cool."

The game is played with eight players on the court. The players use a guard rail on the front of their wheelchairs to pass, dribble and shoot the ball.

"It was tough to get use to. I had to learn the rules because I didn't know anything about it when I first started."

Competing since he was six years old, Johnson plays on one of the most dominating Power Soccer teams in the county.

His team, The Minnesota Magic, has won three national titles in the past five years, as well as ranked as the No. 2 team in the nation.

"You can't be the best without hard work and practice," says Johnson.

And that hard work and practice has paid off. Johnson is one of six players across the country to compete in the first international Under-18 Power Soccer Tournament that will take place in Paris October 30th-November 3rd.

"They selected 40 athletes and each had to send in a tape doing drills. From there they picked six players and I was one of them."

The total trip will cost Johnson around $5,000 which includes the tournament, travel expenses and equipment, all of which Johnson needs to raise on his own.

Currently Johnson has raised just over $2,000 with donations from local businesses and family. They are also holding a garage sale starting today (Thursday) through Sunday in Deerwood.

"People have been so generous donating items for this garage sale. Brand new items, gently used, big items and small items. I'm really excited to see the turnout," says Kim

And no matter how many titles Johnson wins, the support he receives from his family is the greatest achievement he can reach.


Riley Johnson practices soccer in his driveway. (Photo: Alex Svejkovsky, WJON News)