On Friday February 22, Michael was welcomed as the keynote speaker for the Golden Key International Honour Society. It was their annual Canadian conference organized by the Brock University chapter. At the end of Michael’s presentation, he was made an Honorary Member of the Society. Michael was surprised and thrilled to be given this honour.
Michael had the opportunity to visit the head office of Special Olympics Canada, in Toronto, to speak with staff about his book. At the same time he had the privilege to drop off a donation. Special Olympics has made a big impact on his life and he feels so happy to make a contribution so they can continue to do great work with athletes.
Michael spent three days in the Huntsville/Sundridge area speaking to elementary schools, secondary schools, parent presentations, a radio talk show, and to a local on-line newspaper called the Huntsville Doppler. It was a great experience and he appreciated how welcoming everyone was.
In the fall of 2018 Michael had the opportunity to speak to executives and staff at the head office of Apple Canada. He was completely overwhelmed at the positive response and even the opportunity to speak at Apple about his book. Michael never realized that writing notes on his iPad 7 years ago would have brought him to their head office. He even got a standing ovation. Certainly a day to remember!
To start 2019, Michael was featured in the St. Catharines newspaper. Michael appreciates opportunities like this to get his story in front of more people. He is thankful for the kind words and to everyone who contributed to the article. Michael is determined to make a difference in the world and change the narrative of what it means to have a disability. He feels each day he is getting closer and closer to his vision of a more inclusive world.
Michael's book was mentioned on The Lucky Few Podcast where stories, interviews, and advocating for Children with Down Syndrome are featured weekly. Episode 9, titled The Ultimate Holiday Gift Guide included Michael's book as one of the featured items to consider when buying gifts for the holidays. They described Michael as a ‘Narrative Shifter’, it was awesome to hear how Michael’s self-advocacy shines through and is impacting many communities of people. We are huge fans of The Lucky Few, check them out!
Michael was invited to TSN Sports Centre to co-host with Kate Beirness. Together they kicked off a campaign dear to Michael’s heart. Sobeys launched a full week in-store fundraiser where customers could say YES to donating $2 to Special Olympics when you checked out at any Sobeys store. Everyday Michael is a proud Sobeys employee and Special Olympic athlete, and this has been a special opportunity for him to be part of. Watch Video >
On November 30th and December 1st, Michael and Kaila attended the CEC Annual Special Education Conference. On Friday, they gave a Poster Presentation, and on Saturday morning they shared Michael’s journey and his book. Michael provided insights on what worked for him in the school system—such as: 1) attending IEP meetings to be involved in your education, 2) being integrated into the classrooms to feel like you belong, and 3) allowing your students to fail but to always believe in them. Michael realizes that each person is unique and that teachers and EAs in schools have an important role to play by listening to their students. He was inspired by the people in the room and their dedication.
On Nov. 21st, Michael was the guest speaker for the town of Fonthill's community efforts event that recognizes service groups and town subcommittees. Approximately 180 volunteers listened to Michael talk about his book and his journey. The theme of the night was “Imagine, Believe, Achieve” something that resonates with Michael very much. He spoke to the importance of volunteer work as Michael is a board member of Community Living Ontario and Community Living Welland/Pelham. In the photograph, Michael is with Dave Augustyn, former Mayor of Fonthill.
On November 5th, Michael and Kaila were welcomed on CHCH with Annette Hamm. She reached out to Michael and was very excited to have him on the show to hear more about his book. The interview asked questions about Michael, his book and his future ambitions. Check out below. Watch Video >
Michael attended a Conference in Winnipeg from October 29th-31st. He was given the opportunity to present with Chris Beesley, CEO of Community Living Ontario. The two day conference was full of inspiring people from around Canada sharing the work they are passionate about doing. Michael presented twice to a group about Re:Action4Inclusion, an amazing movement through Community Living. At Re:Action4Inclusion, Michael found his voice and felt more comfortable with himself and his ability to share his story. Michael hopes to attend many more conferences.
On September 20th, Michael and his sister Kaila went on Breakfast Television with Roger Petersen and Dina Pugliese. Michael had never been on live television and he was pretty nervous, but everyone made him feel comfortable and excited for this opportunity. Michael and Kaila were able to talk about their relationship and the making of the book. The response after the show was incredible! Michael received many orders and people were even sharing their own stories. It was one of the best ways to kick-off the initial sales of the book. Watch Video >
On September 19th, Michael attended the annual Welland/Pelham Special Olympics fundraiser dinner held in Fonthill and sponsored by Sobeys. Michael briefly spoke to guests about the importance of Sobeys partnership with Special Olympics. He expressed how significant and meaningful Special Olympics is in his life and the life of other athletes. Michael presented his first cheque to Special Olympics that night as partial proceeds of his book are donated to this organization.
In September 2018, Michael attended the CLO AGM in Toronto. Michael was re-elected to be on the board for another two years. Michael spoke in front of 500 people and let them know he wanted to continue to be a voice for those like him. Michael was given the opportunity to share his story at the conference and sell copies of his book. Michael presented his first cheque to Community Living as partial proceeds of his book are donated to this organization.