Eastern Iowa teen teams up with celebrity to organize a benefit concert

Published: Apr. 18, 2018 at 9:21 PM CDT
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An eastern Iowa 17-year-old has worked for months to organize a benefit concert.

Nick Johnson is a senior at Prairie High School in Cedar Rapids. He became friends with Mandy Harvey back in 2015, at a summit for people living with disabilities.

Last year, Harvey was a finalist on “America's Got Talent.” She's a famous jazz singer, who also happens to be deaf.

"I'm friends with a celebrity. That's great. It's a part of my life now,” Nick Johnson said with a smile.

Their friendship started about three years ago, after attending a "No Barriers" summit. No Barriers events are geared for people with disabilities, with seminars, experiences and motivational speakers to push people to go beyond what they think is possible.

Johnson, who lives with cerebral palsy, didn't expect the event to be so empowering.

"We go to the summit and there's prosthetics, and wheelchairs, and everything. And then we come home and it was, 'Ohh this is what we've been missing.'"

They were friends long before Mandy Harvey appeared on "America's Got Talent." After the show Johnson had the idea to bring her to eastern Iowa to perform. But he wanted the concert to benefit others. He pitched the plan to local businesses, who helped cover the cost to get Harvey here.

All ticket sales will directly benefit No Barriers. Not only is Johnson excited to see his friend, he's looking forward to giving others with disabilities the opportunity to envision a barrier-free life, and then live it.

"What's in you is stronger than what's in your way. And that's just sort of in the back of my head whenever a hardship comes up."

The show is at 7 p.m. on Sunday, April 22 at Antioch Christian Church in Marion.

to purchase tickets for $25.