PSU news by
Penn State's student blog

Topics

About

Kyle Chase Johnson Painted on Inspiration Mural

A week after 2012 Penn State graduate Kyle Chase Johnson tragically died while running the Pittsburgh half marathon, local muralist Michael Pilato painted his likeness on the Heister Street mural, a fitting tribute for a man who, by all accounts, was a quintessential Penn Stater.

Calling it a Mother’s Day gift for Johnson’s mother, Pilato started painting at 3 a.m. Sunday and worked through the morning on Johnson’s image on his “Inspiration” mural.

“All week long after this tragedy, students just kept me telling stories about him. It had to be at least 100 of them,” said Pilato. “He was a leader. He inspired people. Everyone I talked to says he made them smile.”

Johnson played football at North Allegheny High School and was a proud Lion Ambassador during his time at Penn State. He fell down at the 12-mile marker of the Pittsburgh half marathon last Sunday, just 1.1 miles away from the finish line. It was later discovered that Johnson had had an rare abnormality in his coronary artery system.

Johnson was working at Deloitte & Touche and had just finished his first of four tests to become a Certified Public Accountant. His father mentioned to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review Kyle had recently run a similar race in  New York but had no prior health problems.

“He was a model student, a great Lion Ambassador, and a guy who always went out of his way to help people,” said Pilato. “Today I painted a young man who makes me want to improve myself.”

Johnson was loved by his family, his friends, and especially the Lion Ambassadors. He served as the Director of Internal Relations during his senior year and always knew how to put a smile on someone’s face — whether it be a fellow L’Amb or a wide-eyed student on a tour. Indeed, there are undoubtedly countless students at Penn State today because of Johnson’s campus tours.

“With the addition of Kyle, we hope that the mural will allow the Penn State community to remember Kyle as the great Penn Stater and the great person he was, as that is how he will be remembered by those within Lion Ambassadors,” said John Satira, the president of the Lion Ambassadors.

Pilato sent the following message to Johnson’s mother and had the note posted next to him all morning and afternoon while he painted to give him inspiration.

“Mary Beth Deal,

“Today is Mother’s Day. It is 3 a.m., and I am on my mural painting your beautiful boy Kyle Chase Johnson. I wanted you to have this gift on this day to honor you and all mothers who have gone through the agony of loss. Your boy was a great young man who touched so many in his short but productive life.

“So many students that I know and ones I do not know have told me about him since the news of my adding him to the mural. Kyle was a remarkable young man. He seems to me to have been a charmer who always left a wake of smiles. People could live many lives over yet I believe they would not gift as many smiles. He was a role model.

“My mural in State College is called Inspiration. Every one on it has inspired me in one form or another. Kyle has inspired me with the most inspirational thing of all and that is love. That love I saw in the faces of students, and it will not go away. Love does not disappear; it is engrained in our hearts.

“To all the moms I have painted — my mother, my daughter’s mother, Sue Paterno, and the mothers of our super heroes who left us too early, like Kevin Dare, Brandon McCumbee, Cordell Logan Page, Kyri Hall, Isaac Thomson and Ryan Ostrom and now Kyle Johnson, to the mothers of Sandy Hook and the Boston tragedy, to the moms around the world who suffer this sorrow, I paint Kyle for you as well.

“Happy Mothers Day. May you feel the love that your children share on this blessed day and may the love of family and friends surround all of you and fill your hearts and calm your souls. Today my brush is guided by that love and will be until I join my mother for dinner. I will say the prayer at our table and I will lead it with… ‘Today I would like to give thanks to a special mom, Mary Beth Deal, who raised a boy who became a man whose kind nature lives on in the hearts of all he graced. God be with them and warm Mary on this cold day with all the love and more that she needs.’

“Happy Mother’s Day, Mary Beth you truly are a great Mom.

Love….Michael Pilato”

Next to Johnson, Pilato painted the iconic photo of Joe Paterno eating ice cream alone on a bench outside the Berkey Creamery. Few loved Penn State as much as Johnson and Paterno’s photo is symbolic of that love. A flower is placed on the bench next to Paterno, as well as in Johnson’s hand, to symbolize mothers and Mother’s Day.

166086_10151571102233116_2065997327_n

Additionally, Pilato has added space below and around Johnson for his friends and family to add personal message and share stories.

The family is asking that memorials be made to Penn State University, to benefit the Lion Ambassadors, in memory of Kyle Johnson, 1 Old Main, University Park, PA 16802.

Our thoughts continue to go out to Kyle’s friends and family during this difficult time.

IMG_20130512_141356_105

Kevin Horne contributed to this report.

About the Author

Ryan Beckler

Ryan is a senior in the Smeal College of Business majoring in Marketing. He is a Lion Ambassador who loves giving tours to prospective students. His favorite activities include distributing news and consuming Chipotle.

Comments

More by Ryan

Penn State and UCF Discussing 2014 Season Opener in Ireland

The often-discussed Penn State road trip to Ireland is a bit closer to reaching fruition. Penn State is reportedly in talks with UCF to open the 2014 season in Dublin, Ireland, according to the Orlando Sentinel.

Senior Column: A Family Found

Pilato to Honor Newtown, Boston Victims on Mural

Athletics

Incoming Penn State Track & Field Athlete Kristian Marche Shot To Death In Philadelphia

The incident surrounding Marche’s death is “under investigation,” according to the Philadelphia police department.

Former Women’s Gymnastics Coach Files Lawsuit Against Penn State Over Handling Of Abuse Allegations

Men’s Soccer Trio, Reading United Win PDL Eastern Conference Title, Fall Short Of National Championship

Penn State Hockey’s Evan Barratt, Aarne Talvitie Participate In World Junior Summer Showcase

Ally McHugh Wins 400 Medley National Championship

Student Life

Nike Releases New Penn State Sneakers

This year’s sneaker is available to purchase online for $109.99.

Penn State Parking Office Runs Into Student Permit Purchase Issues

Girirajan Lab Seeks To Bridge The Gap Between Fly And Human Genomes

Plans Submitted For New KFC In State College

Developers have submitted preliminary land development plans to build a new KFC restaurant at 1780 S. Atherton St. in State College.

Join Onward State: Fall 2018 Application

Onward State is hiring for the fall semester and we’d love to have you join us.

Fall Move-In Traffic & Construction Changes

When 40,000 students need to move back to State College over the course of four days or so, things are bound to get crazy.

Be the first to know

  • Top posts and the best Penn State stories

Thank you for subscribing.

Something went wrong.

Assessing Penn State’s Front Seven Following Tuesday’s Medical Retirements

Penn State’s defensive line rotation will be shaken up following Ryan Buchholz’s medical retirement from football, while the coaching staff is letting the linebackers duel it out during camp.

Send this to a friend