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Posts Tagged ‘athlete’


How to Spot the Humble

   Posted by: admin    in Musings

A couple years ago I worked with a gentleman named Mike Stroud.  I was immediately impressed by Mike.  He’s one of those people who constantly strives to make his world a better place.  All his worlds—home, play, and work.  He always seems to find the bright side, and I’ve never seen him lose his cool.

Happiness is contagious.  I suspect a lot of people catch it from Mike.  I love that about him but, truth be told, that’s not what impresses me most.

Mike’s oldest son has a condition called Periventricular Leukomalacia (PVL).  He was deprived of oxygen shortly before or after birth and had seizures every 15 minutes in the first days until doctors found the right strength of medication. The lack of oxygen causes brain matter around the brain’s vascular system to die.  Symptoms of PVL include mental and physical impairments. The mental side of PVL is referred to simply as mental impairment. The physical side is Cerebral Palsy, where fine and gross motor skills are affected—including eating. There is also a sensory impact making him sensitive to loud noises, touch, and textures.  As an infant Mike and his wife had to brush their son’s body 3 times a day to de-sensitize him.

He’s fifteen years old now. He is doing things physically that some professionals thought he may not—jumping, for instance. He is doing things academically that they never thought he’d be able to do.  His teachers have noted that while other teenagers with mental impairment have started to plateau, he continues to progress.

He is an inspiration, taking on his challenges with a smile nearly all day every day.  Like his dad, he makes people around him feel happy.  And I’m sure he learned that skill from Mike.  I also believe wholeheartedly that the boy’s achievements are due greatly to the love and support shown by his parents.  But that’s still not what impresses me most about Mike.

Mike Stroud gives his heart to his child like any parent would, and then he gives just a little more to other people’s children too.  Mike is the coach for the area’s Special Olympics team.  It’s no easy task, no matter what he tells you.  Mike provides all the equipment for practices and makes sure the athletes have bottled water to stay hydrated.  He has to acquire a practice location that will be available for eight Saturdays (Special Olympics is not directly affiliated with a school system so availability of a gymnasium and track is not guaranteed, and alternate plans may need to be made with very little notice).  Then there’s sending out flyers to encourage participation, and obtaining coaching certification specific to Special Olympics, and paperwork to monitor practice attendance and activities (regulations state that athletes must practice for a certain number of hours to be eligible for competition), and organizing parents and volunteers to assist during practice, and … probably a number of things he doesn’t talk about (because, remember, Mike just does what he has to with a smile).

At practices, Mike shines.  Literally, he’s beaming the entire time.  The athlete’s love him, and he loves them back.  Amidst the hard work of running, jumping, stretching, and tossing softballs with all their might, there are also cheers and hugs and high-fives and spontaneous leaps of joy.  Mike gives a nudge when they need it and offers encouragement always.  Multiple times, I’ve seen him go down on his haunches next to an athlete who is reluctant to participate in an event, say a few heartening words, and then lead a now grinning and excited boy or girl to the starting line.

Simply put, Mike is a people-person.  He has a lot of love to give.  Impressive, but still not what impresses me most.

I emailed Mike to ask if I could blog about his efforts with his son and with Special Olympics.  He responded:

“You can write about me, but there are many others who give much more to it than me.”

That is what impresses me about Mike.  (Finally, we’ve made it!)  He gives and gives and doesn’t believe he’s really giving that much.  Maybe doesn’t believe he gives enough.  He goes out of his way to provide self-esteem and joy to a group of very special people (and everyone else in his life).  With every right to brag, he stays humble.  I said as much in a reply to his comment above.  Here’s what he came back with:

“Thanks for the compliments.  I’m pretty sure no one else would say I’m humble. I’m far from that.  As for what our athletes get from it, I get even more. True life lessons from them.  Priorities, how to treat others, people before things, content, how to be a good friend, uninhibited, etc.  Too bad I’m a slow learner.”

To that I say, bull-pucky!  Mike has learned those lessons.  And he’s taught them to me.  I hope I learned them as well as he did.

Thanks, Mike!

For more information about Special Olympics and how you can become a Mike, visit their website here.
You can read more about Periventricular Leukomalacia here and here.
Information about Cerebral Palsy can be found here and here.

Check out The Evolution of Mortality or Good Deeds for some other humble people. Although maybe not as honorable as Mike…

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