Outstanding Philanthropic Youth – Ian Johnston
It’s not about winning or losing at the game of golf. Ian Johnston plays for a bigger purpose.
A proud graduate of Prairie High School in Cedar Rapids and former star of the Prairie golf team, Ian’s been playing since he was a small child. Now a student at the University of South Dakota, he is a member of the University’s golf team. At just 19 years old, Ian has been working as a philanthropist for more than 4 years.
What is it that motivates a young philanthropist like Ian? Sadly, the answer is tragedy. On October 4, 2016 Ian's beloved older brother, Seth, passed away from a heroin overdose – alone in a hotel room.
Ian chose to honor his brother and to use his love of golf to build a platform to raise awareness about substance abuse and the opioid crisis. He also used this as a springboard to raise money. ASAC, the Area Substance Abuse Council in Cedar Rapids, is the recipient of Ian’s fundraising.
Ian began sharing his family's story with other junior golfers and their families in hopes of spreading awareness about substance abuse disorders in teens & young adults. He has spoken to high school health classes about the dangers of substance abuse and his efforts have garnered the attention of media outlets on a local, state and national level. Even Zach Johnson, who’s known Ian since he was a little boy, got involved and narrated a CBS Sports Network story about Ian and his family. This allowed Ian to further spread awareness and increase his fundraising efforts. To date, Ian has raised over $30,000.
In 2019, Ian and his family established a scholarship for golfers at Prairie High School who were active in the community. The Prairie High School golf team created an award, The Ian Johnston Award, given out annually to a student who displays excellence in the classroom, the community, and on the course. Ian is an active part of The Choices Network, a non-profit founded by his family that is dedicated to teaching teens about the importance of making positive choices and educating teens, parents, teachers & coaches about substance abuse and mental health.
Each time Ian steps to the first tee, it’s for Seth. With every putt he makes and every tournament he wins, Seth’s story continues to be told.