• Special to The Sun

Stephen Johnson honored at Jack Kain Ford


FORMER UK QUARTERBACK STEPHEN JOHNSON was awarded the first annual Tom Cannon Courage Award at a ceremony held at Jack Kain Ford on Wednesday, March 28. Pictured from left, Front row: Laura Cannon,Stephen Johnson. Middle row : Allan Cannon, Jane Cannon, Julie Cannon and Chris Cannon. Back Row: Jeff Eaton and Andrew Eaton. (Photo by Bill Caine)

Former University of Kentucky quarterback Freddie Maggard in conjunction with his KY Sports Radio Depth Chart Podcast team and Jack Kain Ford in Versailles, announced that the first-ever recipient of the Tom Cannon Courage Award was 2016-2017 University of Kentucky QB Stephen Johnson.

The award ceremony was held on Wednesday, March 28 in the Jack Kain Ford showroom. A plaque was presented to Stephen Johnson by the widow of Tom Cannon, Laura Eaton Cannon of Lexington, and his parents, Alan and Jane Cannon of Bowling Green.

The Tom Cannon Courage Award will be presented each year to the University of Kentucky student athlete who exemplifies a commitment to the principals of sportsmanship and courage in overcoming and excelling past obstacles. The recipient will symbolize professionalism, great strength and dedication to their community and team.

The award is named for Bowling Green native Tom Cannon, a 31-year old teacher at Winburn Middle School in Lexington and ardent University of Kentucky athletics fan. Tom became ill at the 2016 Kentucky vs South Carolina football game and was diagnosed the next week at University of Kentucky Chandler Medical Center with stomach cancer.

He showed such courage with the preparations he made for his wife and family, facing death, that Maggard and KSR’s Depth Chart Podcast team decided to recognize his courage by starting the Tom Cannon Courage Award. Jack Kain Ford is the sponsor of the award.

Johnson had Tourette’s syndrome as a child. He and his family credit his family’s devout faith and prayer with curing him of Tourette’s when he was 12. Johnson enrolled at UK in January 2016 and entered fall camp as the No. 2 quarterback, but after an injury to starter

Drew Barker, Johnson led UK to seven wins in its last 11 games. He is the second quarterback in school history to pass for at least 300 yards in their first two career games and the first Kentucky quarterback with at least 300 passing yards and at least 50 rushing yards since Patrick Towles on Oct. 25, 2014 against Mississippi State. Injured after the 2017 Music City Bowl, Stephen Johnson walked out of the locker room without crutches because he didn’t want the fans to see him hurt, and that courage embodies Cannon’s spirit.

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