Double Amputee Starts Shoe Company
CBS 2 Los Angeles tells the story of Dwight Johnson, a skyscraper inspector who tragically lost both legs, but fought back and now has his own company making shoes.
Johnson remembered how his ordeal started: “I was going back and forth to Hong Kong, and I picked up a staph infection. Within three days my foot was dead. I basically had to learn to walk all over again like a child.”
That didn’t stop him; he returned to inspecting skyscrapers 70 and 80 floors above the ground using his prosthetic leg. Then, just 18 months ago while he was in New York City, he was hit by a transit bus while he was crossing the street. The only option was to amputate his other leg.
Johnson refused to see a surgeon.
Johnson’s wife Debbie recalled, “We went through a couple nights where he wasn’t going to go, and I had to give him an ultimatum that he had to go, because otherwise he would have died on me, right in the house.”
After the surgery was performed to remove his other leg, Johnson remembered, “Honestly, I was laying in the hospital bed and I asked the nurse, ‘Give me the red button and leave it on, I’m done.’”
Debbie said, “I think we were both kind of in shock that it happened again.”
But after losing both legs, Johnson wouldn’t give in. He said, “Something just told me I could do it. With my seven kids and my wife, I just wasn’t ready.”
Tom Nomura, the clinic manager for the company that made Johnson’s new legs, has been an inspiration to them. Nomura has been working with Johnson since he lost his first leg, and said of him, “It was his perseverance and his determination that really made it work for him.”
Johnson said simply, “It’s not the end of the world. Yes, it’s tough; I’m in pain every day, but I’m not ready to sit in a chair.
Johnson started a shoe company that makes wildly colored shoes. The idea: look at the shoes and stop staring at his legs. He joked, “It’s like when I get on the airplane the stewardess will say, 'Great shoes, who made ‘em?' And I’ll say some guy with no legs made ‘em.”
Johnson and his wife are partnering with local non-profits to help other amputees transition into new routines. He concluded, “I’m hoping this will entice somebody to get off their rear end and get up and go.”