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LEWISTOWN, Pa. – In 2012, Cecil and Marvin Johnson  decided to begin creating a giant ball made of copper wire stripped from old appliances and car parts to see how big they could make it. Cecil Johnson, who owned Johnson’s Garage, kept the ball at his garage and the brothers would add to it whenever they had time and material.

The world record for a copper wire ball is 922 pounds, and Cecil hoped to someday break the record.

In 2013, Cecil was diagnosed with lung cancer, but he and his colleagues continued to work on the ball until May 2013 when the garage had to close because of Cecil’s cancer. He passed away in November 2013.

In 2014, the ball was moved to Marvin’s garage.

Marvin continued to work on the ball, stripping wires from appliances and parts in his backyard. However, in January 2019, Marvin was diagnosed with a tumor in his esophagus.

“Marvin continued to work on the ball during his chemotherapy and radiation treatments,” said his wife, Naomi Johnson. “You could still find him in his truck collecting items and he and his grandson, Layton, in the yard tearing items apart.”

Marvin never complained and was always “junking,” according to Naomi. He last worked on the copper ball in October 2019. From that point on he was in and out of the hospital for other health issues. Marvin, 73, passed away Dec. 12, 2019, four days after his and Naomi’s 52nd wedding anniversary.

Naomi and their son, Chad, decided to cash in the copper ball to fulfill the dream of Cecil and Marvin. The ball weighed 279 pounds and Naomi and her son decided to donate the proceeds.

“We had $800 to donate to Geisinger Lewistown Radiation Department in memory of two great brothers, Cecil and Marvin Johnson, to help people in Mifflin County,” Naomi said.

About Geisinger
Geisinger is among the nation’s leading providers of value-based care, serving 1.2 million people in urban and rural communities across Pennsylvania. Founded in 1915 by philanthropist Abigail Geisinger, the non-profit system generates $10 billion in annual revenues across 134 care sites - including 10 hospital campuses, and Geisinger Health Plan, with 600,000 members in commercial and government plans. The Geisinger College of Health Sciences educates more than 5,000 medical professionals annually and conducts more than 1,400 clinical research studies. With 26,000 employees, including 1,600 employed physicians, Geisinger is among Pennsylvania’s largest employers with an estimated economic impact of $14 billion to the state’s economy. On March 31, 2024, Geisinger became the first member of Risant Health, a new nonprofit charitable organization created to expand and accelerate value-based care across the country.  Learn more at or connect with us on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and X.

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Mike McMullen
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