On a rainy Saturday night in December 1992 sixteen year old Mike Wilkins had ended his late shift at the local pizza place he delivered pizza for and had followed his cousin home to get a broom. It was going to be a busy weekend. Mike and his family were moving out towards the county to the new house they had just finished building. Heading towards home Mike turned onto Winwood Street as he had a hundred times since getting his drivers license. Traveling too fast the rainy street became a danger zone when making a right turn caused his car to hydroplane hitting another vehicle head on. The impact caused Mike’s head to slam against his driver’s side window with enough force to shatter it into tiny pieces. Had he not worn his seat belt Mike would have not survived the the crash. He was only several blocks from home.
Mike lay in a coma at Washington Regional Medical Center in Fayetteville, Arkansas. The waiting room filled nightly with family and friends, mostly from school, praying that Mike would somehow awaken and everything return to normal. Mike suffered a traumatic brain injury which was referred to as a “closed head injury” in 1992. Physicians were not sure how or if Mike would recover.
While stable but still in a coma Mike was moved to what was then the Northwest Arkansas Rehabilitation Hospital where he awoke from his coma. It had been three and a half months. By this time Mike had lost a lot of the muscle he had built over the years while taking up weightlifting and playing high school football. He had to learn everything over again from eating, walking, using the restroom, and tying a shoe.
Everyday was a challenge for Mike as well as the family. As friends went on with their lives Mike was still on their minds, but for the family everyday life became hospital parking lots, hallways, and the thought of an empty teenager’s bedroom at home. However, Mike was steadily improving during his rehabilitation. One particular day Dr. Hurlburt walked into Mike's room and noticed Mike was on his bed. He had been in his wheelchair which was still sitting by the door. “Mike, who put you on your bed?”, Dr. Hurlburt asked. Mike answered the best he could that he did. "But Mike, you can't walk." Mike then stood up, and with everything he had in him, walked to his doctor. Surprised yet overjoyed with Mike’s ability Dr. Hurlburt made a promise to Mike that the both of them would walk the hallways together once a day as long as Mike was still in rehab. And they did just that.
He still had a heart for sports and his nurses at the Rehab hospital had told him about the Special Olympics so he thought he would give it a try. In 1998 he signed up for track and field and at his very first meet he won gold in the 1500 meter dash and took 3rd in the shot put. Later a friend told him about a weightlifting division that had just started and that immediately sparked interest in Mike. Traveling to North Carolina he won silver in the bench press, benching 175 lbs, won gold in the dead lift, and winning 1st overall.
The special Olympics took him to Dublin, Ireland for the 2003 World Games. Mike won 2 gold medals and a silver dead lifting 345 lbs and bench pressing 175 lbs. Bon Jovi was there for the opening ceremony. In April 2006 he won more gold medals in both the bench press and dead lift for the Special Olympics held in Fayetteville, Arkansas. In June 2006 he will travel to Iowa for a chance to compete at the 2007 World Games in China.