Before you watch Johnny’s interview with Michael McKeller, here’s what you should know about Michael…
Michael McKeller was born with spinal muscular atrophy, but that never stopped him from having a childhood just like any other all-American boy – full of excitement, raucous fun, and endless adventures. But despite brittle bones, scoliosis, and countless surgeries, Michael was determined to do everything his brothers and friends tried, and did his best to treat his medical conditions as nothing but small setbacks.
“I always had a very clear picture in my mind about where I was going to be and how I was going to get there and a lot of the times, no one else bought into that – no one at all,” he says. “So I had to make it up on my own. Now I did have the support of my family – they supported me in doing whatever I wanted to try – but as far as figuring things out, a lot of times I had to say, ‘I’m going to do this and I’m going to figure it out.’’’
That independent spirit continued throughout his life into adulthood, being at times the compass necessary in moving forward and accomplishing his goals. It’s his belief in himself that always makes him strive forward with confidence and conviction.
“I believed then and I believe now, almost everything I ever want to do in the physical world is possible, if I’m willing to spend enough time figuring it out and devote the resources and effort into it,” he says. “And so learning that very young just became part of my mindset – it was just there. So anytime I faced a challenge I took that toolkit out of the bag – out of my past – and I used it again and [said], ‘Hey, I’ve done it before, I can do it now, I’m just going to make it happen.’ And when you believe completely that it’s going to happen, the answer usually falls in your lap.”
Today, Michael is known as “Extreme Mike,” earning his SCUBA certification, sky diving, flying ultra-light planes, speaking to audiences about living with no limitations, even designing a diet program to help others lose weight who may not be able to exercise traditionally, much like himself. Nothing holds him back, and it’s his mission to impart that wisdom to others.
“I think that most of the people around me [who] know me don’t put limitations on me anymore,” he says. “They realize that it’s all up to me and I’m going to bounce back better than most people would. But at the end of the day though, it’s not really about how much I bounce back. And that’s what I try to get through to people: no matter where you are. . . there’s something productive you can do with your life that’ll make you happy. Happiness is also a choice – it all starts there.”
Below is the video of Johnny interviewing Michael.
Download audio MP3 file (Right-click and choose “Save Target As…” or “Save File As…”)
Transcript coming soon