If ever a man was defined by what he can do instead of what he can’t do, it’s Mike Schlappi, Hall of Fame gold medalist, author, speaker, husband, and father of five. At the age of 14, Mike had expectations of a career in sports as a topnotch athlete. A gunshot to the chest at point-blank range challenged those dreams: he would never walk again. After months of rigorous physical therapy, Mike began playing basketball from his wheelchair and went on to become a standout athlete.
Mike is a four-time Paralympic medalist and two-time world champion in wheelchair basketball. The only wheelchair basketball player in the United States to be on four consecutive summer Paralympic teams, Mike was honored by the state of Utah in 2000 as one of its top 50 athletes of the past century. He served on the board of trustees that managed the 2002 Winter Olympic Games in Salt Lake City. He is the founder and director of the Wheelchair Sports Foundation, a nonprofit organization that serves disabled athletes, and he was inducted into the Wheelchair Basketball Hall of Fame.
Mike also earned his MBA and is the author of Shot Happens, an inspiring book that draws on his experiences and the challenges he’s overcome. He is the president of Mike Schlappi Communications and he has won numerous honors including the American Medical Association’s Special People Award, the Sporting Goods Manufacturer of America’s Heroes Award, and the Golden Key Athlete of the Year Award.
Interviewed by Winn Claybaugh, Mike has an inspiring message for everyone, young or old: “Just because you can’t stand up, doesn’t mean you can’t stand out.” Despite difficult circumstances, we can all can take response-ability and be empowered.
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