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Heart to Heart

If You Can’t Stand up, Stand Out!


But my world changed in 1977
when a bullet ripped through
my chest, punctured my lungs
and severed my spinal cord.
I was angry and frustrated at
God and my friend for pulling
that trigger. But I wasn’t raised
to quit. When I changed my
outlook, I gained confidence
in the power of the human
spirit and our ability to adapt.
I’ve thought a lot over the last
year about the ability to adapt
and change. Much like the
way I felt in 1977, we’ve been
confused and frustrated, mired
in the sorrow and tragedy of
what has happened. But in 44
years, the lesson I’ve learned
is that it’s better to look for
opportunities than fault and

It’s a lesson I’ve had to
practice repeatedly. During
a later surgery, the doctors
also took the bullet out

spine. I remember holding that
bullet in the palm of my hand,
realizing how much damage
that little piece of lead had
caused. It was a turning point
because that was when I
totally forgave my friend. I
got the lead out in more ways
than one and realized that
forgiving and understanding
is another component of living
your best life.

Before my injury, I had
dreamed of playing basketball.
After my injury, I remember
going out in the backyard
with my father, grabbing a
basketball and shooting it
toward the 10-foot hoop. I
watched it fall five feet short.
My father simply said, “Mike,
you can still be a great athlete,
but you are just going to have
to do it a little differently.”
I started playing the game
I loved on wheels. I found
out that they had wheelchair
basketball in the Olympics
and set a goal to be the first
wheelchair basketball player
to represent the United States

Located in the Santa Cruz
Mountains, this beautiful
state park is home to
towering redwood trees,
some of the oldest in the
country. The tallest tree in
the park is approximately
277 feet tall, about 16 feet
wide and around 1,500
years old. During our visit,
we took the Redwood
Grove Trail loop (0.8 miles).
The loop is fairly flat, and
the terrain was easy to roll
on in my chair. The loop
offers a wonderful view of
the redwood forest. Along
the route, you’ll also get a
chance to see the famous
Fremont Tree. You’ll have to
navigate down two steps to
get inside, but once inside,
the tree is massive. It’s fun
to fit your family inside the
giant redwood.

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