Johnny Von Der Ahe was a 15 year old boy at the beginning of his life journey. He was a thriving freshman in high school, he had just gotten his driver's permit, and he was planning and looking forward to a summer of travel and adventure with his family when it was all taken from him in an instant. Johnny was killed when he was hit by a car on July 1, 2020 while skateboarding infront of his home with his little brothers and a dear friend.
Johnny was a kid full of life and a quest for adventure. He lived each day to the fullest. He woke most mornings before dawn to ride his bike to the beach to surf with younger brothers Jack and Charlie, friends, and the local surf community. When he wasn’t at the beach he was in the mountains water skiing or snowboarding with his brothers, cousins and friends. He lived to enjoy the ride of life – wherever that ride took him. Johnny had a huge passion for the oceans, lakes and rivers – playing, fishing, and taking photos in them. He dreamed of working in the water somehow. He often fantasized about being able to combine his passion for photography with his love of the water and its creatures. He spoke about being anything from a Surf Photographer to a Marine Biologist. He was also a huge animal lover – especially dogs. He wanted to adopt every dog he ever met or saw on social media. We often referred to him as the “dog whisperer” because any dog he met was immediately drawn to him. This summer Johnny was scheduled to start service training with his beloved dog Koda. He was looking forward to taking Koda to the local Children’s Hospital and VA to cheer up patients and staff.
Johnny was silly and loud and joyfully lived each day to the fullest. He never let any opportunities go by. He had many friends from all over town. He did not discriminate or choose peer groups. He was a friend to everyone he met. He never held a grudge or judgement and called everyone a friend. We have been blessed with many cards and letters from kids whom he touched telling of his kindness and understanding. The way we most often described Johnny was “big hearted” and now we know just how big hearted he was with all the lovely stories we’ve been told of unsolicited help or encouragement, unexpected friendship, or even just a simple smile that he seems to have shared with everyone.
Johnny’s favorite color was green. Since he was a baby he always chose green – clothes, toys, crayons, food, etc. It’s always been fascinating to us that his favorite color reflects his personality so perfectly. Green is the color of the heart, of love and compassion. Green is the color of abundance, growth and of nature. In his teen years Johnny started to love the color pink, as well. Equally interesting because pink too is a color of love and compassion, nurturing and understanding. That was Johnny – a big, bright spirit that lived to get outside in nature and share his passion, excitement and love and compassion with everyone he met.
Johnny's biggest legacy is the life he gave to five organ transplant recipients. He saved five lives, five families, when he donated his healthy kidneys and liver, his strong and powerful lungs, and his wonderful beating heart. By donating his vital organs Johnny lives on today. The gift of time, memories, of life to the recipients and their families is Johnny's enduring legacy.
July 10, 2020