LIVINGSTON, NJ – Olympic balance beam gold medalist and "Dancing with the Stars" Season Eight winner Shawn Johnson made a special visit to young recovering patients and their families in the pediatric ward at the Saint Barnabas Medical Center on Thursday to help spread cheer and inspiration.
Johnson signed autographs, took photos and engaged in conversations with children who were in need of someone to look up to. Among many of the children that she visited were those in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit.
“I feel like I worked my whole life to achieve my dream and being given this platform and ability to give back is really important to me,” said Johnson. “I feel like it’s my job now to see other kids dreams true or at least help them however I can.”
Johnson, 24, won the ESPY for “Best Female U.S. Olympian” in 2009 and was crowned by "Forbes Magazine" as “America’s Most-Liked Sports Figure” among her many honors following the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing.
Eight years removed from winning her Olympic Gold Medal, Johnson still can’t believe it, saying that it’s like a dream and describing it as the most honorable and prideful moment that she ever experienced.
She didn’t put her "Dancing with the Stars" title on the same level, but still admitted that it was an incredible experience.
“I want to thank Shawn Johnson for visiting St. Barnabas Medical Center,” said Stephen P. Zieniewicz, FACHE, President and CEO of Saint Barnabas Medical Center. “Her visit to the Pediatric unit was incredibly meaningful for the patients, their families and the staff. Her words of encouragement and inspiration brightened the day for so many. She is truly a world-class athlete and individual.”
Johnson made the trip to New Jersey to help promote the upcoming 2016 AT&T American Cup, USA Gymnastics’ most prestigious international invitational, which will be making its state debut at the Prudential Center from March 4-5. In the summer, she’ll be traveling to Rio de Janeiro for the 2016 Summer Olympic Games and will commentate on the gymnastics component of the event.