I met Mikey the day of the Pennsylvania Spartan Race which took place around July of 2012. What took place that day is still etched in my mind as a group of friends and I struggled the entire race but one member of the group really stood out. Here is his story.
Before I met you, Travis told your story about what happened to you as a little kid before we supposed to run the Spartan Race, can you elaborate and describe the side effects of what occurred?
Basically, when I was younger I was victim to a freak accident. I was accidentally hit in the neck with a golf club which later caused me to have a massive stroke. The impact crushed my carotid artery and paralyzed my right side. Most doctors would’ve given up on me at the time except for one who didn’t think I’d just sit in a vegetative state. I had to learn how to walk, talk and basically do everything over again. It took YEARS of progress and various forms of therapy to get me back to normal everyday living; if you want to call it that. I still have a few lingering ailments I’ll have with me permanently.
Bryan: Before we did the Spartan race together, we were walking around the site, I could tell that Mikey still walked with a limp which as you will find out later, he doesn’t notice. There were several people who walked by and were flabbergasted that Mikey was running the race.
Often times, when something drastic happens to individuals they can become depressed or feel out-of-place, how were you able to cope with that as you act like the happiest person in the world? (Mikey had a smile on his face the entire time I was in his presence.)
I wouldn’t exactly say I’m the “happiest” person in the world but I try not to let things get to me. There have been plenty of times in the past & (even here and there now) where I did get down on myself knowing what I was dealing with was something I can’t fix or make go away but I learned to understand that hell is what you make it. That phrase is even tatted down my right leg as a reminder. It basically stands for making the most out of any bad situation thrown your way and that there’s always a light at the end of the tunnel. I utilize music, staying active & surrounding myself with good down to Earth people to keep that happy vibe flowing. The way I see it, if you put in hard work, play harder, stay positive & try to keep the world smiling, it will smile back down on you.
Describe the races that you have done in the past, and can you let me know the feeling that occurred when you crossed the finish line?
Why did you decide to sign up for them? (I decided to sign up for them to prove other people wrong but what happen is that they made me a better person every single time!)
Well the first race I had ever done was called Warrior Dash. I agreed to do it with my two best friends (who are a set of brothers) Eric & Garrett. The race was held on 10-10-10 at 10 AM. With that unique date & time, I knew I had to be a part of it. It was probably one of the best decisions I have ever made in my adult life. Not just physically but mentally the bond the 3 of us took from that day can never be broken or be understood by anyone else but us.
At the time, adventure races/mud runs were really in their infancy and not as extremely popular as they are now which was great because I feel like we caught the train right on time and before the majority of the population did. The two of them inspired me to get into better shape & that I COULD do this. The race was roughly the size of a 5K; just with various obstacles, water & mud thrown into the mix. At that time, 3 miles was a mountain of a distance in my eyes and had no idea that I would later laugh at that.
A little over a month after that experience, the three of us went to Englishtown, NJ for the toughest physical challenge I could ever imagine, Tough Mudder. It was a cold 30 degree on a November morning and the course was sadistic, cruel & unforgiving I loved every second of it. After the Dash, Garrett opened my eyes to Tough Mudder but I was totally against it after reading what was waiting for us. As opposed to a 3 mile course, it was a 14 mile trek that made the obstacles I faced before look like child’s play. One day though, I did the right thing by manning up & said “yeah, I’ll do it!” Since then, I haven’t looked back. To this day I’ve completed 3 Tough Mudders, 2 Warrior Dashes & 2 Spartan Races with a few 5K running events sprinkled in between. I would have never imagined putting myself in competitions or challenges that involved a massive amount of running but once you harness the proper mental grit, anything truly is possible. Writer’s note: What’s funny is that Mikey and I both did the Tough Mudder along with the Spartan Races, we both agreed that the Spartan Race PA which was a sprint (3 miles plus) was tougher than the Tough Mudder.
Describe the challenges you have faced – career and social if any.
That’s an easy one. To be honest, one of the lingering effects is daily pain. I have early arthritis & other permanent damage in and around my right foot and even though I don’t notice it all the time, others do. For years, I’ve fielded the questions “Did you hurt yourself?” or “Why are you limping?” Fact of the matter is, I don’t even realize it half the time but when I walk, it becomes slightly noticeable to others. I never really go into detail when asked; I just kind of brush it off. My darkest days were in junior high school & the first half of high school. The kids were just straight up mean & not very nice to me because (at the time) I wore a brace and had those difficulties a lot more visible to the naked eye. Even some I had grown up with and went through grade school with me that already knew my situation but went along with the crowd because it was apparently the “cool” thing to do. I’m not saying everyone was so callous but there were a good bunch that were understanding and mature but they were definitely with me in the minority. Some of them, I’m blessed to still have around in my life as those others have just faded away into obscurity.
Bryan: It was a great day pushing each other at the Spartan Race. I am forever grateful that I met you.
- When you think you are going through a tough time, there may be others going through a lot worse. Keep pushing on. Never give up, trust me you won’t believe how much you can push yourself through.
- Surround yourself with positive friends, they will only make you reach for the sky every time. Thank guys, you know who you are. Eric and Garrett, thanks for pushing Mike. You have made an impact on not only Mike’s life but others who will read this. I am glad that I met you guys as well.
- Realize that the biggest opponent is not the race, not the competition, not the guy next to you but the biggest opponent is YOU. Beat it every day and don’t let it talk your way out of things.
- Mikey and I could have easily let our DISABILITIES stop us but we didn’t. We simply removed the saying from our dictionary.
Readers, if you have any questions for Mikey or myself, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will make sure to answer your questions. If you know of anybody that needs inspiration, please share this on your Facebook wall, email it, tweet it, Google+ or print it out if you remember how to. We decided to do this to help just one person today and if we achieve that, then we have done the best we can do. Mikey and I are also looking for motivational speaking engagements, if you know of any where we would make an impact at, please email me at the above address. Thanks again to Mikey for sharing his story!
If anybody else has a story to share, please let me know!
Until next time,
BA is OUT.