Recognize Rafer Johnson & Honor His Accomplishments

Every Gift Helps A Child Play, and Continue The Journey Toward Lifelong Well-Being


Rafer Lewis Johnson (1934 – 2020) lived a life of service as impressive as it was impactful. We recognize his achievements, but more importantly, we honor the man – his leadership, character, and commitment to others.

In 1960 Rafer Johnson stood on top of the tri-level podium at the Olympic Games in Rome after winning the gold medal in the decathlon. His display of all-around athleticism in the pinnacle of sport to assume the coveted title of “greatest athlete in the world” would be a crowning achievement for many. For Johnson, it was another step in a lifelong journey of broader impact and a deeper sense of purpose.

That triumphant moment in the Rome Olympics was just one chapter in a memorable year for Johnson. In 1960 he also won the AAU James E. Sullivan Award as the most outstanding amateur athlete in the United States, broke the decathlon world record, appeared on the cover of Time magazine, and was voted the Associated Press Male Athlete of the Year. While each are amazing singular achievements, what is most notable about Rafer is that he used his athletic success as a platform for social justice and to drive social change.

The Play Equity Fund is focused on bringing the transformational power of sport and structured play to all children, regardless of their race, gender, zip code, or socioeconomic status. Join us in our mission. 

Rafer is a shining example of a person who inspires us in our efforts to achieve lasting change – to pursue a brighter, healthier and more equitable future through access for all youth.

Rafer was a huge inspiration behind the Play Equity Movement which is committed to supporting programs and actions that ensure all kids have opportunities to participate. Providing equal access to organized sports and play is a social justice issue. The Play Equity gap exists for many kids whose families can’t support the added expense of youth sports. The Play Equity Fund aims to strengthen communities, one child at a time.  

The Play Equity Fund is a 501c3 public charity. (Tax ID: 47-1295322)

Help us to recognize Rafer and honor his incredible lifetime of accomplishments and profound impact by supporting those in need to become “the best that they can be.”



You can join us by contributing to The Rafer Johnson Impact Fund. Established in 2019, this fund is committed to providing support to organizations serving adaptive athletes and those with intellectual disabilities – a cause near and dear to Rafer and his family. 

You can contribute directly to the Rafer Johnson Impact Fund online at, or you can send a check payable to Play Equity Fund/Rafer Johnson Impact Fund to 2141 W. Adams Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90018.

Every gift you give makes a real impact in the lives of kids and families.