First, big thanks to grandma and grandpa for throwing me a wonderful birthday meal last night!
Throughout my journey with and after Bella, I have met several people who have helped me out as a result of being inspired by our story. Well, this week, I had the opportunity to do the same.
Meet my new friend Mikey Oliveri.
Mikey has Muscular Distrophy. At 6'2", he all but 75 pounds. He is a young man who has chosen to live independently despite his diagnosis.
See, according to Mikey, he's not handicapped, he's handicapable. Mikey hasn't let his diagnosis define or limit him. Watch the video, "Hey Richard, it's Mikey," on his blog which I have linked below. It's amazing. My good friend, Joe Polish, found Mikey's video online and was immediately inspired by him and before you know it, Joe left a voice mail on my phone with him and Mikey on the line! It was clear that Joe wanted Mikey and I to connect; Joe is a master connector.
So, I hopped on the phone Friday night and spoke with this young man. He shared with me his story and his challenges, and we realized we were definitely cut from the same cloth in terms of how we think about life. It was also serendipitous that we are both curriculum graduates of Landmark Education, a seminar company the has some really powerful personal development programs.
Mikey just wants to live a typical life of a young man his age, but his diagnosis creates some pretty serious challenges, and recently his stomach stopped working, requiring him to get a J-tube placed for nutrition. He just wants to go out with his friends, live independently, and, well, just live.
Despite these challenges, he still wants to be the first disabled person to go to space. How awesome a vision is THAT? He already holds the record for the highest sky-dive of a disabled person, and was able to fly in the Zero-Gravity Jet recently with his sister. He said it was the first time he didn't feel disabled, because there was no gravity weighing him down. With muscular dystrophy, he lacks any muscle tone to move his body against gravity through space. Well, in Zero-G, that experience disappears.
So, Joe knowing what I've been through and how I've worked to transform my tragedies into triumphs, put us together, and Mikey shared something with my that blew my mind. He gives inspirational talks at schools and to groups, but declines getting paid, because he's afraid to earn money, because it will kick him out of the social security system. He doesn't understand how to get paid to share his inspirational story and amazing attitude. So, he remains trapped mentally.
I began to wonder how many people are stuck in that same conversation. How many people are afraid to try and make a go of it on their own, when the government gives them $ - and will pull that $ if they work? I told him about the amazing man, Sean Stephenson, the 3'2" wheelchair-bound man who saved my marriage. Sean has brittle bone disease, but hasn't let thatt stop him from becoming a clinical psychologist, author, speaker, and all around inspiration. I met Sean through Joe (told you Joe is the master connector!) back in 2009, and he provided me a single coaching call that changed the trajectory of my marriage.
So, I decided it was time to pay it forward and help Mikey create a bigger vision.
We talked about his desire to be free from the system, and that if he could figure out how to do it, he could then teach others just like him how to do it, too. Especially, because much of the roadblock is just fear of the unknown. Now, Mikey is FIRED UP. He's got a big following online, and he's going to create a timeline for getting free from system, and we're gonna do what we can to share the resources and tools he'll need to learn how to get paid (well) to share his (flipping unimaginably inspirational) story so that he can make it on his own.
Meanwhile, he's driving himself to the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN this week to see if the GI team there can figure out what's wrong with his stomach, because no one else is willing or able to explain why it shut down. P.S. I'll be on email shortly with the docs at U of M for a few referrals as well.
Will you share his story and videos please? He's amazing. Make sure to watch the Indiegogo campaign video as well.
Go to his blog and share it with your peeps. Many people have made this request about THIS blog... I now humbly ask that you do the same for Mikey.