This One's for You
An Inspirational Journey Through Addiction, Death & Meaning
By Jeff Johnston
John Lennon famously said that ‘life is what happens to you when you are making other plans.’ On the morning of October 4, 2016, business owner Jeff Johnston was doing just that- making other plans. His son Ian was about to play in a very important state golf tournament for his Iowa high school; His wife was busy getting dressed up in the school colors and preparing for a beautiful day on the links following Ian around and cheering him and his team on to victory; Roman, their youngest son was off to school and all seemed right in the world.
But then, the call came that no parent wants to get. The voice on the other end of the line told Mr. Johnston that his oldest son, Seth, had died of an overdose in a dreary hotel room not far away, alone and probably very scared.
The CDC says that more than 60 thousand people die of overdose in the U.S. every year, a staggering number. Seventy percent of those involve a prescription or illicit opioid. Those statistics are the cold hard facts, obtuse and unrelatable until it’s your family member or friend. It’s a war, and we are not very close to winning it or even making progress there. It’s heartbreaking and a daily devastation to some family somewhere who gets the call.
After the golf tournament that day, Johnston sat his kids down to tell them about Seth. “Boys, we have two roads to go down. We have one road of anger and despair and hatred and if we take that one we’ll end up being addicts ourselves,” he said. “Or, this can be the single greatest moment to change lives and make a positive difference. I’m taking the second road. You guys can join me.”
And so began one man’s quest to do battle with the scourge of drug addiction and overdose in this country. But what he found when he set out on his adventure was that he was indeed joined by others who have also made the choice to take the second road. As he has walked, his own son, Ian, has joined him. He decided to donate money from every birdie he makes in every tournament to worthy organizations who are also in the fight. He keeps Seth’s favorite bandana tied firmly to his golf bag to remind him of his much-loved and revered older brother. He keeps his memory alive by raising his putter to the sky after every birdie and saying “This one’s for you.”
As good a golfer as he has become, Ian is an even better young man, a leader of leaders and a positive influence in his circles. Youngest brother Roman has written a song for Seth, and honors him in many ways every day as a student athlete and friend.
About Jeff Johnston
Jeff Johnston is on a mission. It’s not one he would have chosen, but he knows in his heart that his mission chose him.
Born in Solon, a small town in Eastern Iowa, Jeff worked hard and built a thriving financial services firm in Cedar Rapids. Premier Investments of Iowa, Inc. was started by Jeff in 1989 shortly after he graduated from the University of Northern Iowa with a Bachelor’s degree in finance. He is the host of the Premier Financial Hour radio show that airs on Newsradio 600AM. Jeff was one of the founding members of Linn County TRIAD, a local organization that promotes senior safety. He was also a past board member of the Eastern Iowa Alzheimer’s Association.
Jeff is a trusted advisor, a good friend, and a relentless activist for the things he believes in. He is also keenly aware that he doesn’t have all the answers. That realization keeps him searching and learning, a lifelong pursuit.
When the death of his son, Seth, rocked the foundations of his family in 2016, he made a decision based on what he knew in heart would be right for them all. It was a life changing choice for himself and for those he and his family have touched since making it. In 2018 Jeff joined the board of the Area Substance Abuse Council (ASAC).
He has penned and published a book, This One’s for You: An Inspirational Journey Through Addiction, Death and Meaning. It will publish on September 25, 2020. September 25 is Seth’s birthday, and Johnston wants to honor him and his life with the release of the book. He has also
launched the Choices Network, an organization dedicated to educating and inspiring teens and young adults to make positive choices.
Jeff lives in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. In his spare time he enjoys scuba diving with his youngest son, Roman, and watching his middle son, Ian, play collegiate golf at the University of South Dakota.
“Wow! There is something for everyone in ‘This One’s For You.’ Parents, friends, teachers and
coaches who work with young people, all of us – there are many messages. Facing problems with children and young adults, everyone can appreciate the experience. It is a tough but very worthwhile adventure. A thoughtful look at serious family challenges – with workable solutions offered as well.”
Dr. Tom Davis
Retired Men’s Basketball Coach
University of Iowa 1986-1999