A typically unemotional man, Dwight was moved to tears and turned to his son and daughter-in-law and asked them to play Jim Valvano’s ESPYS speech. He had heard excerpts before, but never the full thing. And this time it resonated differently. Especially one quote – how he closed the speech.
“Cancer can take away all my physical abilities. It cannot touch my mind, it cannot touch my heart and it cannot touch my soul. And those three things are going to carry on forever.”
As an accountant, Dwight was curious about the V Foundation. He asked his daughter-in-law to pull up the financial records of the organization. He was thoroughly impressed by the V Foundation’s 100% pledge.
The grandfather of seven had everything planned out for his final days. With his lifelong organized mindset. He had prepared envelopes with notes for each of his grandchildren. He had his funeral planned – who would speak, which songs to be sung, everything.
But, being so moved by the donation from Kevin Garrison and the speech, Dwight wanted one thing changed for his funeral. He challenged Todd to read Jim’s speech for all attending. He also asked if people would like to donate in his honor, directing them to the V Foundation.
The night before he passed away, Dwight and the Johnston family laughed, they cried, and they thought about Dwight’s legacy.
“I don’t know to this day how much Kevin gave in my dad’s name,” Todd said. “But, whether you are donating $10, $100, $10,000 to the V Foundation, to know that every dollar of that goes to researchers in laboratories working on a cure for [cancer] really moved him, more than the emotion of Jimmy V’s speech. He laughed, he cried, but he really thought, ‘Is this what I want to have my legacy be in terms of donations in my name?’ And it was.”