Mighty Mike Simmel: An Epilepsy Inspiration Times Ten!!

mike simmelI recently attended the Epilepsy Awareness Expo at Disneyland. I met so many wonderful epilepsy advocates.  While my husband chauffeured us to our destination, driving more than a thousand miles, I researched the story of every person and organization listed to attend the Expo.  There were different layers to the attendees at the Expo. Some of the people I met represented organizations such as epilepsy associations or medical facilities that worked with people who endure seizures. Some people I met trained service dogs in order to help others live a better life in spite of their seizures.  I had so much fun speaking to each one of them.  I found myself in awe of a few of the participants; one of them being Mighty Mike Simmel.

Mighty Mike cares about himself, a lot. And he cares about others. Growing up as a child with epilepsy he was bullied and shamed because of seizures. Rather than allow the perception of others rule his life Mike chose to succeed. At the age of 13 he was a professional entertainment basketball player with the famous Harlem Wizards. In 2009 he was given the TOYA award as he was one of the Ten Outstanding Young Americans and in 2014 he was named a Kentucky Colonel by the Governor of Kentucky.  I am sure the most rewarding accomplishment of Mighty Mike’s is helping today’s youth, through basketball, to realize they do not have to live within parameters that are set by others because they have a disability. Mike’s goal is to end the stigma that epilepsy, and many other illnesses carry. He says, “Stigma is NOT a physical limitation, nor an illness. It is a LABEL applied by others based on THEIR perception that says you can’t.”

In 2005 Mike founded the Bounce out the Stigma Project with the primary goal of empowerment. “Limits will not define you, your WILL defines your limits.”  Mike’s basketball camps, that are free to the children participating, have inspired and helped many children with disabilities realize they do have potential.

Mike is a wonderful man. I was so honored to meet him and say thank you for helping others.

Please find more information about Mikes Bounce out the Stigma Program on this website: http://bounceoutthestigma.org/

If you have, or know, a child who had disabilities sign them up for this camp and encourage them to reach beyond the limits society has set for them.


About Lola Jines-Burritt