Designing Hope for Others

Mike Schultz was born in Minnesota, and given his birthplace it’s not unusual that he would have an interest in snow sports. He was known as Monster Mike for his fearless competitive spirit. But that spirit was challenged when he was competing in a snowmobile race.

Mike was coming through the field of racers at 40mph when his snowmobile hit a hole. His leg was badly damaged and he was going into shock. He was transported 110 miles by ambulance, and by the time he got to the hospital, his condition had gotten much worse. What started as a leg injury had become a fight for his life. Doctors had to amputate his leg above the knee for him to survive.

At age 27, Mike faced the loss of his hope of being a competitor in the sport he loved. Outfitted with prosthesis, Mike quickly learned to walk. But the prosthesis was made for walking and not for competing in the sports Mike loved. While Mike had no technical education he did have a practical tinkering mindset.

He designed a metal knee with a shock absorber that would give him the mobility he required. He tested it by jumping off of a six-foot step ladder.

His first return to racing was at a dirt bike race with a 90ft jump. He broke his carbon-fiber foot on the jump, but kept in the race. He ended up second in the race. Mike next set out to design a new foot. Using his designed knee and foot, he won a Gold Medal in a snowmobile race at the 2010 Winter X Games.

Mike’s designs then led to a new hope: helping others with similar disabilities reinvent themselves. His hope had led to giving hopes for others. Many of Mike’s principal competition have benefitted from Mike’s designs. In fact, Mike redesigned the prosthetic for his main competitor.

Mike continued to compete and retired at the age of 40, having endured 12 broken bones, dozens of concussions, and the loss of a leg. But he has gained a new hope of helping others through a loss of a limb. Every time one of his designs is used by a racer, he feels that he is still competing. We can have hopes for ourselves, but also have hopes for others who we support.

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“If one of my competitors breaks something at an event, I’m going to my toolbox and help them. It’s just who I am.”  – Mike Schultz

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