Epilogue: John Hannon
June 2, 1967- Jan. 18, 2011
John Hannon was exactly where he needed to be. Pounding the pavement, bellowing motivation and shaping legs, hips and lives through his Body Bash Bootcamp. After several careers, he had found his calling. He had a thriving business, a doting family and girlfriend, and two sons, P.J., a pre-med student at Florida State University, and Matt, a budding skate boarder. He celebrated his 43rd birthday last June.
Then came lung cancer.
John had never smoked, but cancer didn’t care. It had already taken his father and an older brother. It came for his mother too, but she survived. John was determined to follow her lead.
For a man who turned the world into his body-busting playground before most people had wiped the sleep from their eyes, surrender was not an option.
This was nothing.
“A bump in the road,” he told everyone.
That was September. John died January 18, 2011.
If angels exist, John is up there giving them hell.
“Clouds are for softies,” he’d say. “Now give me 20 and hit it hard!”
At bootcamp, John was all intensity and encouragement. At home, he was patient, gentle and silly.
“He’d cook and I’d clean,” says Shanna Halsell, his girlfriend of more than two years. They met when she first took his bootcamp class a few years ago. He had a way with people. A way of making them feel strong, unique, important.
“He knew everyone’s name without fail,” she says. “And he had a nickname for everyone.
Hers was Shan-Angel, among others.
John was a father first, trainer second. Sometimes, he’d show up at the Skate Park of Tampa unannounced to watch his son Matty skate. When John’s boys were on the field playing sports, his voice stood out from the crowd. If they lied, John didn’t yell. Instead, he’d look at them with those startling green eyes and say, “Buddy, I really can’t believe you lied to me.”
That alone was enough to make them feel guilty.
“He was the cool one,” says Shannon Shuert Hannon Oliviero, Matt and P.J.’s mom. “I would be the parent that was freaking out. He’d say ‘Suck it up buttercup, we got this.’”
John’s body may have given in, but that fighting spirit never did.
“Even in the last hours of his life, giving up wasn’t an option,” says Shannon. “That’s what (John’s sons) take with them, is strength.”
As P.J. believes: “What’s it all worth, if it’s painless.”
That’s what being a Hannon is all about. Hitting life hard.
Photos by Jill Heald (www.Jillography.com)