Jonathan O.L.H. Porter

Home and family

Jonathan O.L.H. Porter, 26, lives in Seattle, Wash. His parents are both retired military, and he is the fifth of six children.

Personal history

At age 3, Jonathan received a diagnosis of spinal muscular atrophy (SMA), which causes loss of muscle tone and a weakness of skeletal muscles. He began using a wheelchair at the age of 4.

While a student at Garfield High School, Jonathan also was enrolled in a teen program facilitated by the Technology Access Foundation, through which he secured three paid summer internships with the Microsoft Corporation. Porter graduated from Garfield in 2004, receiving awards for maintaining a GPA above 3.0 all four years. While in high school, he was a member of the National Society of Black Engineers, and attended national conferences in Texas and California. He then went on to attend Seattle University, where he graduated in 2008 with a bachelor’s degree in business administration. Jonathan was a member of the Black Student Union and a continuing member of the National Society of Black Engineers.

MDA leadership

Jonathan attended MDA summer camp — where he enjoyed wheelchair soccer, video games and VIP Days — every year from the time he was 5 until he was 21. He served three years as a local Goodwill Ambassador and was the 1998 Washington State MDA Goodwill Ambassador.

Jonathan is active with the MDA young adult group, and frequently speaks at events focusing on young adults transitioning to college and living independently. He also participates in many MDA fundraising events.

Professional and community achievements

During his college years, Jonathan served as the Sunday school teacher at his church for elementary school-aged children. He assisted in preparing sack lunches for the homeless and volunteered with a program that assisted low-income individuals with weekly food distribution. Also, he participated in a panel at the Career Opportunities for Students with Disabilities Seventh Annual National Conference in Atlanta, Ga.

For two years, Jonathan worked for the YMCA of Greater Seattle’s YTech team as a technology instructor, training at-risk youth in the use of technologies ranging from video production to graphic design, digital photography and other related digital literacy skills. He currently is a technology instructor at a local middle school, and also conducts after-school clubs in several inner-city schools teaching these same skills.

Recently, Jonathan was appointed to the Seattle Mayor’s Seattle Commission for People with Disabilities, where he advocates for policy changes regarding transportation, housing, employment and public access.

In addition to his community and civic activities, he also has been a member of the Rolling Thunder Power Soccer team. As a member of the team, which includes some fellow MDA members, he has traveled to Canada to participate in various tournaments. In the 2011 BC Provincial Tournament in Surrey, British Columbia, his team swept its division and gave up zero goals; Jonathan was awarded the Golden Guard for scoring the most cumulative goals for the entire tournament.

Words to live by

Jonathan’s zest for life is exhilarating and encourages others to stop, reflect and dwell on the good things in life. Often saying that “life is too short,” Jonathan says he follows that motto in three ways: by “not sweating the small stuff; living each day to the fullest; and ensuring a positive and memorable legacy.