"Imaging knowing at a young age that you are different," said Smisek in the opening line of his well prepared speech, "Not knowing how or why, just that you are different."
His "difference" is autism.
"Imagine being on the outside, never feeling a part of the world," continued Mike. " Autism made me feel that I couldn't be a part of the world around me."
At the age of 12, Mike put his difference aside after a teacher urged him to run in a Special Olympics track meet. Then he felt something really different.
"As I was rounding the curve toward the finish line, I could feel an energy that I had never felt before," he recounts with a smile. "I heard the people cheering and calling my name."
"Imagine my pride as I stood on the first place block receiving my gold medal."
Since that track meet, he's tried just about every sport possible because "can't" is a four letter word.
"Instead of believing 'no I can't' instead I believe "YES, I can," Mike said, pumping his first in the air. "I am not on the sidelines watching others, I am a player."
As the well groomed, handsome young man delivered his final words, a huge grin came across his face as he proudly addressed the large crowd.
"My name is Mike Smisek, and I am a Special Olympic athlete."
The crowd immediately stood and gave him a standing ovation.
To find out more about Special Olympics, visit www.specialolympics.org
To find out more about the Colorado Sports Hall of Fame, visit
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