Johnny Perea: A walk in his shoes

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Photos courtesy John Perea  Johnny Perea, better known as J.P., is one of the most loved members of the Pagosa Springs community. Here he sits with a group of seventh graders during his last year on staff at the Pagosa Springs Junior High.
Photos courtesy John Perea
Johnny Perea, better known as J.P., is one of the most loved members of the Pagosa Springs community. Here he sits with a group of seventh graders during his last year on staff at the Pagosa Springs Junior High.

By Casey Crow
Staff Writer

When you look back on your life, examining those crossroads moments that defined who you would become, and remember the faces of people who inspired you in the mountains and valleys you’ve walked through, who do you see?

For Johnny Perea, better known as J.P., he encountered his crossroads moment on a cold winter day in Pagosa Springs, and owes the relationship that followed that moment to a pair of worn-out shoes.

He was making his way up the sidewalk, trudging through the snow in a pair of soggy sneakers when someone took notice and called the young man over.

Assessing the state of his frozen feet, the late Victor Poma, a long-time resident of Pagosa Springs, matter-of-factly told J.P. he was going to buy him a pair of proper shoes.

When Perea, only 11 or 12 years old at the time, protested the charitable act, Poma said, “Don’t worry, you are going to work for those shoes.” And so he did.

In no time at all, Perea and Poma became an inseparable pair, and J.P. attributes all he has become as a leader, friend and worker to the lessons he learned from Poma and I suppose, to a pair of old shoes.

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