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Home » The Secret To Starting Over: Danyell (Danny-J) Johnson (Transcript)

The Secret To Starting Over: Danyell (Danny-J) Johnson (Transcript)

Here is the transcript and summary of Danyell (Danny-J) Johnson’s talk titled “The Secret To Starting Over” at TEDxWaterStreet conference. In this TEDx talk, Danyell Johnson shares her personal story of overcoming setbacks and starting over multiple times.

Listen to the audio version here:


I was the first in my family to graduate from college, and I did what any college graduate would do. I ran off and joined the circus. I was the kid who liked to climb to the top of a tree, put on a grocery bag over my shoulder, and jump out. I wanted to fly.

So becoming an acrobat at SeaWorld was a dream come true. Cirque de la Mer, Circus of the Sea. I was an acrobat that would climb these poles, Chinese poles, and I would get launched off a giant swing set 30 feet in the air before I landed in the water. It was amazing. Adrenaline rush every day. I lived in San Diego. The sun, beach, beautiful, and I was living my dream. I was getting paid to fly.

So everything was going wonderfully until one morning I got out of bed and fell. I felt like my legs were like, like your foot falls asleep, that tingly feeling, and soon it became excruciating, and I wasn’t able to move.

So I was taken to the hospital, and after three days in the ICU, a doctor came in and said, “Danny, you’re not going to perform again. We’re not sure you’re going to walk again, and you’re lucky to be alive.”

I found out that I had three gram negative bacterial infection in my bloodstream, and it lodged into my sacroiliac joint and made me paralyzed, and these were all bacteria you would typically find in sewage that came from the water at my shell.

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