Defying epilepsy in sport: Mike Simmel
Mike Simmel developed epilepsy when he was two years old. During his early years Mike was unable to participate in regular activities and had to be supervised at times, as his epilepsy wasn’t controlled and regularly experienced atonic seizures. This meant he had to wear protective living aids to ensure his safety.
In an interview with Robert Fiore, Mike speaks about growing up with epilepsy (skip to 03:15):
In school, Mike was placed in the special education gym class because of his slow motor skills and development.
After outgrowing his seizure when he was seven, Mike’s father gave him a basketball to see if his coordination could develop, which seemed to have worked. Years later, when he was at a basketball camp, he experienced his first tonic clonic seizure in nearly ten years. The camp unsuccessfully tried to have him removed. That incident would change him forever, as he knew that one day he wanted to give back to other young people who felt as isolated as he did in that situation.
- From 2001-2014 Mike was a member of the famous Harlem Wizards professional entertainment basketball team, thrilling people all over the world with the show name “Mighty Mike.”
- Has lectured and performed at over 450 Basketball camps.
- In 2009, he was honored by the State of New Jersey with the Alvin Slootsky Exemplary Recreation Lifestyle Award for Work With People With Disabilities.
- In 2009, Mike was honored during the 71st annual Ceremony by the United States Junior Chamber of Commerce as one of the nation’s Ten Outstanding Young Americans in Orlando, Florida.
- In 2014, Mike was appointed by the Governor of Kentucky as a Kentucky Colonel, past recipients of this great honor have included presidents, politicians and famous athletes.
- In 2014 he was honored the “Good Citizenship Award” by the Children’s Hospital of Montefiore in New York.
- Mike Simmel is a national spokesman for epilepsy awareness and is a national ambassador for the Epilepsy Foundation.
Mike has overcome a near fatal 108-degree fever and coma condition when he was just 24 years old and has dealt with his condition throughout his adult life. Now, Mike takes 15 pills for his condition. He is now seizure free and a model picture of healthy living. His mission is to help connect with kids and tell his story to all.
In an interview with Epilepsy Foundation, Mike said:
Epilepsy is a condition just like anything else. In my experiences I have found that if you just get out and be active, you can truly feel good about yourself. Don’t spend your life on the sidelines!