Every day for two weeks, Will Johannessen went to the family mailbox, intently looking for the letter.
It wasn’t a letter Johannessen was hoping for but rather expecting.
On Dec. 14, Johanessen’s letter finally came, confirming he would represent Louisiana in the 2018 Special Olympics in Seattle.
Johannessen was one of four boys chosen to compete in swimming at the Special Olympics event and will compete in the butterfly, breaststroke and freestyle races in early July.
“I was really hyped,” Johannessen said.
Johannessen’s mother, Alison, said he was running around the house, bursting with excitement.
“I was so excited and then he started reading the letter,” Alison Johannessen said. “He was so confident he was going to get the letter.”
More recently, Johannessen was notified about another award. He was selected as The Advocate's Special Olympics Boys Athlete of the Year.
Johannessen has Down Syndrome but that has not kept him from wanting to participate in practically every sport.
At the age of 3, Johannessen started to take swimming lessons at a local pool down the street from the family house. A few years ago, Johannessen began entering competitions and has won at least a dozen medals, most of them gold, and that’s only what he can carry in two hands.
The 18-year-old Johannessen and his 16-year-old brother Nick train together as much as possible, walking to the Jefferson Terrace Aquatic Club pool.
“I’m faster,” Johannessen said. “I want to swim like a bullet, every time.”
Johannessen has also won awards in bowling and track and field, a sport he competes in at his school, Hope Academy.
If that wasn’t enough, Johannessen is also a skilled drummer and listens to the likes of Styx, Led Zeppelin and AC/DC. His go to song?
“Back in Black by AC/DC,” he said.
Though he is eager to head to Seattle to compete in the Special Olympics, being honored by The Advocate is something Johannessen calls "More exciting than winning medals."
His family and others already see the teen with an infectious smile as a big winner. They are excited for others to know his story.
“To come from where he is and the challenges that he’s had, it’s really a big deal for him, to achieve the goals he set out to do,” said Johannessen's father, Bill.
Asked about his goals in Seattle before Monday night's ceremony, Johannessen's competitive spirit came through.
“Gold for it,” he said.