Letters From an Athlete is a series that focuses on showcasing some of our Athletes, who are proud to represent and be supported by High Fives. It’s also a chance for us to show off how appreciative the Foundation is to continue to support these individuals as they chase dreams, complete goals, and inspire others.
My name is Mike Garrison, and I am just your average 34-year-old kid from the backwoods of Missouri. Do you remember the kid in school who struck out in t-ball, ran the wrong way on the basketball court or got tangled in the soccer net? That was me. My parents recognized that perhaps traditional sports were not my strong point at an early age and decided to buy me a dirt bike instead. I got my first dirt bike at the age of 6, and for the next 13 years of my life, I spent every moment eating, breathing, and sleeping motocross racing. I dreamed of growing up as a professional racer.
At the age of 18, I graduated from high school with no real direction in life other than riding my dirt bike. I didn’t want to go to college, I didn’t want a job, and other than the fact that I loved motocross, I didn’t know too much about myself. That all changed on August 27, 2006.
While attending a local race, in an attempt to make a pass for the lead of the race I collided with my best friend mid-air over a jump. We both came crashing to the ground in a pile of bikes, mud, and pain. The crash shattered my T5 and T6 vertebrae, collapsed both lungs, stretched my spinal cord, and left me paralyzed from the chest down.
I was told that I may never walk or feel again, and obviously, never ride a dirt bike again. Unfortunately, everyone that told me that had never met anyone from the High Fives Foundation and Motodemption. On August 27, 2021 (15 years to the day of my injury) me and my wife celebrated our 5-year wedding anniversary in the mountains of Colorado and against the odds I swung my leg over a bike once again to do what I love.
My wife, Britani, has only heard the stories and long-ago memories of my days riding motocross, but on this day, she not only saw me return to my childhood, but she even rode laps alongside me.
I am not special or out of the ordinary. Finding true happiness in life, overcoming obstacles, and chasing unimaginable dreams and goals is something that ANYONE in any situation can do – wheelchair or not.
Someone once asked me how I found happiness and a life that I love, and all I could say was, “It started as just a kid and a dirt bike…”
“It started as just a kid and a dirt bike…”