Durrell Johnson has always been active and heavily involved with sports since he was young. At Frances Blend Elementary and Junior High School for the Visually Handicapped, Durrell excelled in their athletic event, the Braille Olympics. He was a member of the Boy Scouts of America in the Thunder Bird District and received the highest ranking, an Eagle Scout. There he obtained various badges for archery, bike mechanics, and other foresting talents. This prepared him for the U.S. Army JROTC Program at North Torrance High School where he received an impressive 11 ribbons of achievement.
The military and law enforcement always inspired Durrell and it was always a career path that he dreamed of. While his sister joined the U.S. Army, Durrell wanted to join her; however was unable to due to his vision. Although he was unable to join the army, this did not stop Durrell’s dreams. Durrell’s mentor, a police officer with the Los Angeles Police Department, inspired Durrell and helped him join the Young Marines program. From ages 14-18, Durrell participated in the program for 4 years and earned a certificate with the Young Marine Corps Youth Leadership. From there, he became a volunteer drill instructor with the LAPD Explorers program and the Jackson Military Law Enforcement Academy. Not only was Durrell a volunteer drill instructor, but he also worked as a drill instructor in the LAPD’s South West Division’s Jeopardy program, helping the Juvenile At-Risk. As a third job during this time, Durrell was the first partially sighted armed security officer.
Since day one, Durrell never let his vision lose his sight of his dreams and aspirations. Upon the discovery of his glaucoma, his doctors and other assisted programs, such as the Davidson Program for Independence, helped him adjust to his new life and to learn Braille and various independent living skills. These skills not only made Durrell mentally stronger for himself, but also for his children as well.
In Durrell’s free time, he enjoys staying active by skateboarding, bowling, surfing, hanging out with his children, or participating on Blind Start of America’s Dragon Boat Team. Durrell also attends classes at Los Angeles Trade Tech College four days a week in order to further his education and better himself. Through his struggles and achievements, Durrell would like to give some advice to newly visually impaired people, “Stop crying and feeling sorry for yourself because it’s not going to get you anywhere.” Durrell’s powerful story of perseverance, he hopes to inspire many people today whether sighted or non-sighted.