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Trooper Johnson headed to El Capitan

Trooper Johnson during a visit to Castro School in El Cerrito March 21.

Trooper Johnson during a visit to Castro School in El Cerrito March 21.

Lawrence "Trooper" Johnson, who is paralyzed from the waist down, is heading back to Yosemite National Park on July 20 to make his second assault on El Capitan. This time, he intends to climb to the top in less than 24 hours, grinding out over 4,000 pull-ups to haul himself up the 3,000-foot sheer granite face, the world's tallest.

Johnson, who is also on the Golden State Warriors' wheelchair basketball team, is a frequent visitor to area schools.

His effort is not just for personal glory. Trooper, 36, will be climbing to raise money to renovate the Spinal Cord and Brain Injury Rehabilitation Center at Valley Medical Center in San Jose. In preparation for his climb, Trooper is training at the Rehabilitation Center's spinal cord injury gym.

"I spent two and a half months in a spinal cord rehab center after my car accident, and I know what a good facility means to patients and to the community," said Trooper. "The rehab center is where patients start to put their lives back together. I want to help the Santa Clara Valley continue to have the best rehab center possible." Built over 30 years ago, the VMC Rehabilitation Center has gained national recognition for its treatment and care.

Trooper will begin his climb the evening of July 20, assisted by two professional guides from the Yosemite Climbing School, Dave Bengston and Scott Stowe. Trooper will climb throughout the night and summit the following afternoon. "I'm going to focus on taking it one pitch -- one rope length -- at a time," said Trooper. "I know I will eventually make it to the top."

Funds for the Rehabilitation Renovation Project, which is expected to cost more than $600,000, are being raised by the VMC Foundation from corporate sponsors as well as from individuals. "We are asking individuals to pledge at least a penny per foot," said Trooper. "The more people who pledge, the more it will mean to me to scale each foot of El Cap."

According to the Golden State Warriors' website, Johnson addressed 30,000 kids about disability awareness over the past year. He has made several visits to Castro Elementary School in El Cerrito over the years, the most recent on March 21.

In addition to urging students to be diligent in pursuing their goals, Johnson displays his basketball prowess by playing against students, two at a time. He also tells the details of the accident that injured him at age 17 and warns of the dangers of alcohol and drug abuse.

-- From Business Wire and staff reports
Run dates: 2000-07-07 - 2000-07-20

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