How Mike King Became Powered to Move
How Mike King Became Powered to Move
Frisco, get ready to be inspired.
On this episode of Hustle and Pro, we’re proud to share the story of Powered to Move, a non-profit community with the mission and purpose to promote physical fitness among persons with disabilities – with an emphasis on increasing their physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being.
Executive Director Mike King and his wife Sharyn share the background of the organization, as well as Mike’s personal journey from broken to inspired.
Once a strong, healthy vibrant athlete who loved skiing and running, Mike experienced a physical tragedy that left him a broken young man in a place of uncertainty about how to move forward in his life.
Mike shares about his physical, emotional and spiritual journey…and how he discovered God’s grace and love. Hearing Mike’s perspective may inspire you to dig deep, do more, and help others while you’re at it.
Sharyn and Mike King are advocates. They advocate for runners, non-runners, people with physical disabilities, people with intellectual disabilities, and more.
P2M is a They strive to make these opportunities both physically and financially accessible. Listen to this inspiring conversation, and visit their website to learn about their Wingman Program, Hand Cycling races, Adaptive Fitness, and more.
- [1:00] Quick hits with Mike and Sharyn
- [3:23] Sports in Mike’s life
- [4:15] The story behind Mike’s paralyzing accident
- [7:51] Getting through it & the turning point 1 year later
- [14:00] Powered to Move
- [18:00] Hand cycling, Wingman, Adaptive Fitness Programs
Resources within this episode:
Visit i9 Sports to find the program that works for your family. Age Groups include Pee Wee, Juniors, and Seniors. Sports include Flag Football, Baseball, Basketball, Soccer and Zip Lacrosse.
i9 Sports® provides a youth sports experience unlike any other teaching the importance of good sportsmanship on the field and in life.
The Way Youth Sports Should Be.®
Connect with Lifestyle Frisco:
Transcript (Machine Generated):
This is Hustle and Pro with Kelly Walker. Join Kelly as we talk sports with players, coaches, organizers and entrepreneurs from pee wee league to pro. Now here’s your host, Kelly Walker.
Kelly Walker: Welcome to Hustle and Pro. We have some powerful people talking to us today. Welcome to the Hustle and Pro Show, Mike and Sharyn King. Before we tell your story, I want to know a few fast favorite facts about you guys. So we have both of you here so you can both answer or you can each take one however you choose. So who is your favorite all time athlete?
Mike King: I might get myself in trouble because I’m originally from Pennsylvania and I am a Philadelphia Fan.
Kelly: Don’t even say something about the Eagles.
Mike: So I’ve always enjoyed watching Harold Carmichael play. Awesome athlete, big tall, wide receiver.
Kelly: Okay. Sharyn, do you have an all time favorite athlete you want to throw out there?
Sharyn King: Well, I’m a huge Cowboys fan, so, yeah, football is interesting in our house.
Kelly: I bet.
Sharyn: And I grew up, well I was in my thirties, with the Cowboys, with Aikman and Emmett and yeah, so those would be my favorites.
Kelly: I love those guys too.
Sharyn: That was a great time for the Cowboys.
Kelly: I feel like I know the answer to this next one then. What’s your favorite sport to watch?
Sharyn: Oh, definitely. Football. Football.
Kelly: Now this might be a loaded question because what you’re going to tell us later, but what’s the farthest distance you’ve ever traveled to watch sports or to participate in sports yourself?
Mike: Well, I mean, I did that super long trip, which I was able to stop at some of the ball parks and watch some ball games, got to meet players. But the furthest I intentionally traveled to do a sport would probably be Japan for the Oita Marathon.
Kelly: Wow. Okay. What’s the Oita Marathon?
Mike: Oita Marathon is the, well, back when I did it in ’92, it was the largest wheelchair racing event in the world.
Kelly: Wow. Fantastic. Okay. Do you have a different answer or were you also there?
Sharyn: No, no, that predates me. Okay. Yes, I’m not as sporty as Mike is. But I did, do love biking and in Colorado when I lived there, I did the ms one-fifty from Loveland to Estes Park. So that isn’t as far as he went, but it was on a bicycle and a lot of it was uphill.
Kelly: Fantastic. Okay. Now I’m curious, Mike. So growing up, what, what did that look like for you as, as far as what kind of a sports kid were you, what did you do? What sports did you play when you were younger?
Mike: Sports were a big part of our family, mainly because my dad was an avid baseball player. He, other than work lived for playing softball or baseball. And of course he taught us kids that I have four brothers, so we almost had a full team in the backyard. After the work was done growing up on a dairy farm, we were always out playing ball, doing something like that. And Dad also had a lot of other sports. He loved, uh, ice hockey and, and basketball. So anytime he was playing those sports, we were along watching and as we grew up we were playing them also.
Kelly: So we’re going to talk about, a lot about your organization that you guys are here with, Powered to Move. But I think in order to understand where you are today and what Powered to Move is, let’s take a step back. Talk about where you’ve been. So you’ve had a life-altering accident that no doubtedly changed probably every aspect of your life. So what do you want to tell us about that?
Mike: Back in 1978 and I was 20 years old and was off on the trip of a lifetime for me at that time, I guess you could say, myself and three of my good high school friends, we were heading to the west coast on our motorcycles, got as far as Banff National Park in Alberta, Canada. And I was traveling up the road and in the line of traffic there was a car passing that whole line of traffic. It was a two lane road. There was traffic coming toward him. He saw the opening but didn’t see me. And as he ducked into that opening, he clipped my front end of the motorcycle. And that’s the last thing I can remember. Uh, then waking up in the hospital roughly 24 hours later. But the injuries I sustained were, the permanent injury was a broken back, severed spinal cord, which left me paralyzed from the waist down. And naturally that changed my, I guess, whole outlook on life. Being a very active person, loving sports, I thought life was over. Of course, back in ‘78, there was not a whole lot in wheelchair sports available at that time, like there is today. So I thought people were going to have to take care of me the rest of my life and sports was over.
Kelly: So fast forward to today. I mean, obviously you’ve come a long way. So tell us what kind of athlete are you now.
Mike: I’m a wheelchair athlete. It doesn’t make anything different as far as my love for sports, my loving athletic endeavors, challenging myself, pushing myself to the limits. But it does kind of, if you wanna use the word limit in what sports you can actually play, if you look at ’em like they used to be. But as far as the technology that has come into equipment for people with disabilities, I mean, you can snow ski, you can play basketball with the specialized chairs, you can race in track and field or road race competitions with the racing wheelchairs. You can do cycling events with the hand cycles that we have today. And even the field implements in track and field, there’s specialized equipment for throwing javelin, discus, shot put. Naturally you can’t do the hurdles because we’re on wheels. But you know, pretty much you can adapt any sport. I mean there’s people that play soccer. You kind of play football, what’s called quad rugby, which is similar to the rules of football, although it’s played on a tennis court or basketball court.
Kelly: To be able to be mobile. So yes, like you said, the limitations have just narrowed, right, less and less as technology and equipment and gear becomes more readily available.
Mike: Yeah, absolutely.
Kelly: And that’s part of what we’re going to talk about with Powered to Move is that you’re getting those things in more people’s hands. Right? So that they can do more.
Kelly: So I want to note that this show is called Hustle and Pro, right? I want to know how in the world did you manage to conquer the hustle part of your accomplishments with probably some really dark times in your life when you did not feel like hustling to get where you are now.
Mike: A lot of it was, you know, the encouragement from friends. One thing I’ve benefited from is the good friends I made in high school. And just to give an example of the kind of support I had from family and the people in my home community, the hospital that I did my rehab at and my rehab stent was about two and a half months, was about 60 miles from my home area, about 30 miles from the high school that I attended back in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. And there wasn’t one day in that two and a half month period that I didn’t have a friend, a family member, a relative, someone from my church come visit me.
Kelly: Wow, even down the stretch. Cause at the beginning is normal, right? You have a flood of people. But then month two, week seven, eight, there were still people coming in there to support you and spend time with you.
Mike: And you know, it wasn’t just like a trip down the, around the block to go visit. It took time out of their day because they had that travel time. And then spending time with me. And the funniest thing about it, as I look back on it, I wasn’t very good company to be around at that time because I was struggling emotionally with the fact of realizing I wasn’t walking again, I wasn’t running. Cross Country was my high school sport. I loved running and snow skiing was my favorite sport. And I loved doing that and all I could think about were the things that I couldn’t do.
Kelly: Right. Initially that’s all you focused on probably.
Mike: Yeah. But those people kept coming back and showing me. And I think that love and that care that they portrayed to me eventually brought me through that, that emotional struggle. And it changed my attitude to let’s look at what I can do instead of what I can’t do.
Kelly: How much time passed between the accident and when that changed? But the how, what can I go do? What do you think?
Mike: It was probably a good five, six months. The big change came exactly one year later. And you talk about coincidences happening in life. Music was a big part of my growing up as well. And I sang with a touring small chorus and we were on a trip through the national parks of the U.S. that following summer after my accident. I sang with that group before my accident and they, the director let me know he wanted me to stay in the group even though I was using a wheelchair to get around after that, which, you know, wasn’t a big deal. But as ironic as this sounds or again, coincidence, he scheduled a program in the national park of Banff in Alberta and at the church in the city of Calgary with the pastor there who took my family and my friends that were on the cycle trip with me and took care of them during my hospital stay in Canada before I was flown back to Pennsylvania for my rehab. And that evening or the day before our program was actually August 13th, 1979, one year later from the day of my accident.
Kelly: Same day, same area?
Mike: Same day, same place, we are driving down the highway on our way to the city of Calgary and another accident happened close to where mine was.
Kelly: Oh I have chills, I have chill bumps.
Mike: And naturally the small group of us in the van, everyone just got deathly quiet because they all realized it was August 13th, only one year later. And that evening staying with my good friend who was with me on a motorcycle trip also in the music group, we were talking about the year and how I was doing, working through all of the details and what I thought about life in general and just questions that two teenage guys would be talking about, or two young guys in life. And we came to the realization that my life was spared for a purpose. I believe God spared my life the year before in that accident, although I had no idea at that time what the purpose was. I can look back today and know that answer with everything that I’ve been doing and what’s going on in my life. But at that time it was a turning point for me in realizing that my life was spared for a purpose. It didn’t matter being in a wheelchair, I was going to make something of my life.
Kelly: You made a decision.
Mike: Yeah. And you know, thank the good Lord, I’m a believer in God and I believe that He’s the one that pulled me through that difficult time and that struggle in my life back then and has led me and guided me to where I am today. Whether it’s meeting my lovely wife Sharyn, all the activities that I participated in, people I’ve met along the way that gave me the kick or the encouragement that I needed to go this direction or that direction. And it’s just neat to look back on all of that and see that kind of guidance.
Kelly: And all of the people that have heard your story, who are probably in your situation at some point or could be in the future, and think of you and draw inspiration from your strength and that gives them strength. So through that journey, right, Powered to Move was born. So tell us about what Powered to Move is, who it’s for, and what you guys are doing.
Mike: I’m going to let Sharyn start out with that.
Sharyn: Well, I’d go back a little bit. In 1985 Mike did a wheelchair trip where he pushed his wheelchair from Fairbanks Alaska to Washington DC.
Kelly: Yes we skipped that whole thing. We can go back and tell that story. That’s a big thing we didn’t even talk about and I meant to! Okay, so you want to tell that story then?
Sharyn: Well, I can give the general. He started traveling again, and this all is before my time, but it’s kind of the genesis of how Powered to Move started. Okay, he had started traveling and things weren’t holding him back. He wasn’t seeing limitations, he was seeing what he could do. And his dad just asked him, what are you going to do next? And he just sorta, it popped out of his mouth, I’m gonna push my wheelchair across the United States. And then he found out that somebody had already done that from California to the east coast. And so he came up with this crazy idea to push his wheelchair from Fairbanks, Alaska to Washington DC. And I always get the mileage a little, 5,605.8 miles.
Kelly: 5,605.8 miles. Yeah, I butchered that too, ha. That’s a lot. Either way. It’s a lot of miles, a long way.
Sharyn: And just during that trip he was, he was so impacted by the care that he got from the rehab. So he was raising money for different rehabs and stopping along the way and helping people. And so I think that’s where he left that trip, really, not just focusing on what he wanted to do with sports and fitness, but how he could impact other people’s lives with that. And we got married about a little over 10 years ago. We both like biking. It was kind of shared. So I ride my bike, he rides his hand cycle. We moved from Pennsylvania to Texas and we’re talking about how we wanted to serve people and how we wanted to help people. And one of the things that we had seen was people with disabilities intellectually didn’t touch on that yet and physically kind of on the sidelines. And I remember distinctly a woman asking me about Mike and her husband had become paralyzed the year before and she was, you know, asking me if he travels. He, you know, he does all this stuff independently and and she just wanted to know more and wanted him to be more active. And I think that we talked about it on the way home from where we were at and that kind of sparked this idea to start a program that helped people with disabilities become physically active. Our mission statement is putting Christ’s love in action by providing fitness opportunities to people with disabilities. And so we try and help them overcome whatever obstacle might be in their way for whatever it is that they’re interested in.
Kelly: Okay. So that stands from being a resource, like people like you said, the lady who needed answers about what have you guys seen in your life that maybe she could pull from that for her husband. And then I love some of the things that you guys offer program wise, like being a wingman and then some of the adaptive fitness programs that you have and that hand cycling races. So I need to learn a little bit all of those things. First thing’s probably the easiest. Pardon me for not knowing this, but what’s the difference in like a wheelchair race and a hand cycling race?
Mike: A wheelchair race you’re in a racing chair that is propelled just like an everyday wheelchair. You’re pushing on the wheel with your hands. A hand cycling event is basically a three wheeled bicycle. It’s got 27 speeds or 30 speeds or I even think they make a 32 speed now. It has the gearing system, your cranks, just like you’re pedaling a bike with your legs. We’re cranking it and pedaling it with our arms. And we have the shifter lever right there on the handle bars that we’re pedaling. So you’re clicking through the gears, gives you the benefit for climbing a hill, just like a bicycle does as compared to a runner running a race, which is compared to the wheelchair racing. Your arm strength doesn’t have any gear mechanism. You’re pushing on the push rim so if you’re climbing a hill, just like a runner has to work harder to run the hill, we have to push harder with our arms. And you’re really grinding it out sometimes.
Kelly: Yeah. Sounds fast.
Mike: It is fast, especially downhill.
Kelly: Sure. How fast is fast?
Mike: Believe it or not, I’ve had my racing wheelchair clocked at 60 miles an hour.
Mike: But I should explain that story. It was with the help of some 18 wheelers that were passing me on a downhill road, and I got caught in their wind draft and I was afraid to let go of my steering to apply brakes because of how the chair was reacting. But normally with my body weight and the, the racing chairs, 40-45 miles an hour is usually your top speed going down.
Kelly: That’s fast! That’s a little scary. Sounds a little dangerous, but that’s awesome. I bet those races are pretty exciting. So the hand cycling races is one of the things that you guys participate in. Do you facilitate the races for the participants or like, so what part of a cycling race is Powered to Move?
Mike: We facilitate the race for the hand cyclists in our group that are contacts that we have that come out to it. But we join up with the local events, whether it’s local here in Dallas or whether it’s up in Oklahoma or Kansas, we’ve done some races there. There’s races all over the U.S. like that. For example, tomorrow we’re riding in the Emmitt Smith Gran Fondo. There’s three of us. Two of the athletes that I’ve met here and got riding in hand cycles are coming to join me and we’re going to do the 22 miler.
Kelly: Wow. Sharyn, have you gotten to meet Emmitt?
Sharyn: No. I wish I could.
Kelly: Try to, okay! You know he and his wife love that event. Is it here again in the Ballpark?
Mike: It’s not in Frisco this year. They moved it to Parker at Southfork Ranch.
Kelly: But Emmitt and his wife, they’re super accessible sometimes at those events and they’re so sweet. I got to be a part of that event, gosh, probably two years ago now and got to meet him. It’s fun. So I’ll be crossing my fingers that you get to meet him and say hello since he’s one of your favorites that we found out today. So then, Sharyn. Tell me about what the wingman program is then and the adaptive fitness programs.
Sharyn: Okay. Well the wingman program helps people with physical disabilities or physical and intellectual disabilities take part in 5K races or longer. We’ve done half marathons, haven’t done a marathon yet. We hope to do that and maybe even a mini tri next year. About that, how that looks is we have what’s called an adapted running jog or a push chair. And so the person with the disability is the rider, they’re in the chair and then we use a team of able bodied runners to push them through the race. So we usually do a two or a three man team depending on the length of the race. And it’s great because when we started the program, one of our wingmen said it took a sport like running that’s very solo and allowed her to give to somebody else. It gives them that experience. And one of our athletes, or assisted athletes is what we call the riders, Myra, has cerebral palsy. She’s in her thirties and she’s typical intelligence and she told us that when she’s doing a race, when she’s being pushed through a race, it kind of feels like she doesn’t have that disability anymore. And she and her buddy Bradley, who is also one of our assisted athletes, they get very competitive and they’re pushing their wingman to go faster and they get to fly through the finish line. And it’s just a great.
Kelly: That’s a good, probably very empowering partnership to form with each other and kind of compete and have fun and push each other, literally and you know, just competitively. So the wingman, you know, it sounds like what you just described, the runner or team of runners, depending on how long the race is or whatever, probably needs to be an experienced runner. You said that there might be in a situation where it’s like there’s an intellectual disability and you need a wingman, right. Is that something that not very experienced runners can participate in?
Sharyn: Yes, we have wingmen, walkers and somebody who is not as an experienced runner, like you said, can be a buddy to somebody with the intellectual disability who’s doing walking the 5K or walking in the fun run. For the doing the push chairs you should have some experience doing a 5K or longer.
Kelly: Sure, you have to be able to get through it.
Sharyn: We don’t look for runners that are super fast or you know, you don’t have to be an iron man, although we do have some of those. And we’ve got a couple brothers that have done some ironman, but we all said we have the gamut. My sister just pushed in her first 5K and that was her first ever race. She’s a regular runner, you know, three, four miles, four or five times a week. So, and she’s not, you know, super fast. So we run the gamut.
Kelly: That’s good to know. I mean, I did not know that that was a volunteer opportunity. I’m assuming it’s just volunteers that come find you that want to be wingmen. Right? For them in that program.
Sharyn: And probably the best exposure we get is just being at races. We love the Big Star here in Frisco. We’ve done that for four years, three, four years. it’s a great race. They welcome our folks with open arms and after a race we always get emails from folks, runners that want to learn more about the wingman program.
Kelly: What age are you looking for? Like how young can a helper be?
Sharyn: We say 16. And the reason that we say that is because, for example, Myra is an adult. And so we don’t want children younger than 16 and usually at 16 we definitely have some adults paired with them. We just did the Dick Kuwait Yes You Can race last weekend. And he’s the one, Dick and Rick Hoyt inspired this kind of racing. They’ve done the Boston marathon and he’s done it by himself with his son. They’ve done Kona, the Ironman competitions. But, and we had some high schoolers pushing and they were fast. They were really fast.
Kelly: I bet. You’ve got some good high school runners and athletes around here. So then the adaptive fitness program, that’s something different than the wingman program, right? Can you tell us about that?
Sharyn: Yeah, the need came out of the other two programs, the hand cycling program and the wingman program and folks asking us what else can I do. It’s really difficult for folks with disabilities to figure out how to stay active and fit throughout the week. And so they were just asking Mike and myself what other things that they could do. And so we just looked at what their barriers were. It was architectural, financial and usually transportation, and finding people who are knowledgeable and training for doing fitness with people with disabilities. And so we tried to overcome those four areas and we took, we take different types of ways of staying active and we just adapt them. We do adapted bootcamps and four programs that serve folks with intellectual disabilities. We do adapted dance. We’re just getting ready in October if anybody’s interested we have an adapted hip hop class that’s going to start, and an adapted drumming class. It’s a great format called Drumba. And we just took that format and adapted it for our folks. We do adapted kickboxing and we’re right now we’re working on an adapted crossfit class.
Kelly: Wow. Yeah, a lot of programs, a lot of things going on today.
Sharyn: They’ll run for four or five sessions and so we try and have something going most of the months throughout the year.
Kelly: Sounds like it’s quite a community that you guys have built and gathered, and some of those things are probably very life changing for people that need support, need a community of people around them to just be there and give them these alternate ways to move and be active.
Sharyn: It is, it can be extremely life changing. We also do one on one training for folks with disabilities and we’ll work with trainers in that person’s area. And I’ll just share a quick story with you. This one gentleman named Jimmy who we met who has cerebral palsy and typical intelligence had ended up in a wheelchair. He used canes and he just said he became more sedentary and more sedentary and was staying at home, you know, and couldn’t drive anymore. And so he said he had tried to work out but he didn’t know what to do. And he had approached some gyms that were a little anxious about working with him. And so I said, let us try and work something out with you. We found a gym in his area, found a trainer in his area, kind of put him through our program and the trainer started working with him. And what we didn’t know when he started this program is that he had been in so much pain in his shoulders that he was probably going to have shoulder surgery. And after a few weeks with this trainer, he went to his doctor and she asked him what his pain level was like and he said, you know, it’s kinda down to a 2 or 3. And it had been a 10 and he’d been on all this pain medicine and she said, let’s just keep going before we talk anymore about surgery. Let’s see how this training does for you. And so at the end of the 24 sessions that we had provided him with this trainer, not only did he not have surgery, he was off the pain medicine. He was out driving again. And he’s funny, he has a bald head and he said, I can actually lift my arm and shave my own head now. His wife had been doing that for him.
Kelly: But that’s an everyday thing that made a huge difference.
Sharyn: You know, just to be able to drive and be independent again. So it can be life changing.
Kelly: Yeah, he got a lot back. And you mentioned how, I mean the section you just described about him realizing he’s not active anymore and you can kind of get in a funk where you’re like, what do I do at the gym. That describes able bodied people sometimes too. And there’s no really good excuse for it, right? But that can be hard. That’s sometimes a hump you have to figure out how to get over, and then on top of that with the physical limitation like that. So I could see how you need somebody to help. Just help tell you, hey, I know a person that can, you know, it’s worth a shot and they might be able to help you.
Mike: The biggest thing is figuring out, from a wheelchair being a wheelchair user, is how to use the equipment. And that’s what the individual trainer that we paired up with Jimmy in that example helped him with, showing him how to use the equipment and how to adapt any movement that he needs to do. And, that’s the biggest thing is being able to think outside the box because naturally a lot of the gym equipment isn’t designed for a person in a wheelchair. So how do I get on? Can I work out from my wheelchair? And that’s the kind of things you have to figure out and what a big part of Powered to Move does when we hook him up with the individual trainers, just working with them and helping them make those adaptations that they can learn to strengthen themselves and go on with their life and live a good lifestyle.
Kelly: I love that.
Sharyn: And the trainer, so to continue on, the trainer provides them with what we call an exit plan. So this doesn’t end up just being 24 sessions and then everything goes back to the way it was before. So the trainer starts working with that person towards the end of their sessions on this is how you’re going to carry it forward on your own and we’ll help with some small ticket items if they need. Jimmy needed some things to be able to grab the cable machines and things like that. So we’ll help with the trainers, insight, what do they need to continue to carry it forward.
Kelly: So those things cost money, right? So I’m guessing donations are critical for you guys to be able to provide some of these resources to people. So, when, you know, we send people to poweredtomove.org and there’s probably some obvious ways to be able to help out and donate right there on your site, right? Okay. Is there anything specifically besides, you know, monetary donations that you ask for people to donate or is money good?
Sharyn: Money is, probably yes, is good. I would mention right now we are in the middle of a matching gift campaign. We have a very generous donor who gave us a $25,000 matching gift challenge that we’re trying to meet by the end of October and we only have about $5,000 left to raise.
Sharyn: And it all goes to the adapted fitness program because that is where we found that program has kind of exploded. We found the most need there.
Kelly: And those things cost the most probably to get some of those things done.
Sharyn: Yes, classes, so you want adult training in the classes and equipment.
Kelly: So through October your money goes a lot, lot farther. You know if you donate in October it gets matched in your program. Well fantastic. I hope everybody out there goes and checks out poweredtomove.org so you can consider donating and making a difference for people that are affected by Powered to Move. So Mike and Sharyn, thank you so much for coming here and telling your story. I learned a lot from you guys today. I love it. It’s a great inspirational story and thank you for helping so many people.
Mike: Well, thank you. It’s a pleasure being here.
Sharyn: Thank you.