From an early age, Katie was passionate about health and fitness. She was a competitive gymnast for 10 years and in high school she was a nationally ranked diver. She dreamed of becoming a doctor so she could help people. She also dreamed of having a family and thought that a doctor's schedule might interfere with her family life. Instead, she pursued a different path in college and graduated with a degree in Exercise and Health Science. She got a job as a personal trainer and immediately fell in love with the profession.
While in college Katie met Mike who was pursuing the same major. They started dating and both got jobs at the same fitness club. They were living their passion and also learning how to run a business. Several years later they married and an interesting opportunity came up. The owner of the fitness center wanted to sell the business for $200,000. They were young and didn't have the money but they believed in the mindset “Everything is Possible.”
One of their clients knew about the sale of the business. He also knew how passionate Katie & Mike were about health and fitness and he made them a proposal. He would supply the investment, they would run the business, and they would all be partners. With that, life couldn't have been any better...until of course their son Michael was born.
Michael brought even more joy into their life. Now that Katie and Mike owned their own business they were able to divide their responsibilities at work so they could both spend an equal amount of time with their son. Katie managed the business finances, did the sales & marketing, and welcomed new customers. Mike managed the trainers, created the client schedules, and continued to train clients personally.
Little Michael was surrounded by loving parents and grandparents. He had a normal childhood. He rolled over at 4 months, sat up at 6 months, crawled at 8 months and even started talking at 10 months. His favorite stuffed animal is "Chompy" the alligator and he is a huge fan of Sesame Street. He loves Cookie Monster and even had a Cookie Monster birthday cake at his 2-year party. Michael couldn't have been happier and Katie and Mike had big smiles on their face as he blew out the candles. But beneath those smiles their heart was breaking.
Just one month earlier, on Katie's 31st birthday, they received devastating news. It began a few months before that when the parents noticed that Michael was having difficulty walking. After several doctor visits and a series of tests, they learned that Michael has a disease called MLD - Metachromatic Leukodystrophy. It's a rare disease but there is currently no cure and it's fatal. Most children with MLD live to age 5 and some to age 10. In the last few months, Michael has unlearned all of his childhood milestones. He can barely say a word, he no longer stands on his own, he can't crawl, and he has trouble holding his head up. He has difficulty swallowing and is about to have a feeding tube inserted so he will stop losing weight. At some point, he will even have trouble breathing.
I've had the pleasure of meeting sweet little Michael and it's obvious how much he is loved. I reached deep into my contact list and was able to connect with Cookie Monster who was on summer vacation in Australia. Check out the video below that Cookie made for Michael to help bring a smile to his cute little face.
While there is no cure that can help Michael, we can spread awareness, support his family and even fund research so a cure can be developed. Katie and Mike have set up a website, where people can learn more. I encourage you to visit, as I believe you will find inspiration and you may be able to lend some emotional or financial support. I’ve also included below a link to a local news story about Katie, Mike, and Michael.
The life Katie and Mike envisioned has changed and their dreams are in a state of flux. Despite all the challenges they face, they still smile and spread love. Katie told me that although Michael is sick he still brings them so much joy and happiness. They've decided to embrace the Attitude of Gratitude mindset and focus each day on what makes them happy and hopeful. So today, I hope you can pause for a moment and realize that life is more meaningful when we stop focusing on what we don't have and start appreciating and loving what we do have.
Until next week...
Live Your Dreams