Michael Counterman is a 20-year-old at the University of Massachusetts in Boston. He has worked with PYD, an inclusion-based organization that helped him interact with other kids and raise awareness about Duchenne. Recently recognized for his ongoing contribution to the group, Michael is an inspiration to anyone who needs a little help finding their niche. He is a natural born teacher, huge sports fan, and an all around fun guy. And we’re grateful to have him as our Featured Voice this November.
Meet Michael Counterman
Hey Michael! Great to talk with you. Tell us a little bit about yourself. How old are you? Where are you from? What are some of your interests? Tell us your major and what you hope to do when you graduate.
I am 20 years old and I am from Canton, Massachusetts. I am interested in all sports and sports broadcasting. Currently I am a freshman at University of Massachusetts - Boston. I have been the announcer for soccer and I will be doing basketball as well. Also I will be keeping stats for the basketball team. My major is sports communication and when I graduate I would like to do professional broadcasting. I would like to someday work for ESPN.
That’s a great goal and you seem well on your way, getting practical experience announcing games already. When did you learn about Duchenne? How do you answer people’s questions about Duchenne? What do you think is the biggest challenge as a person with Duchenne?
I have known about Duchene in detail for the last ten years. If people ask, I just tell them the truth. I have nothing to hide or be ashamed of. I just tell them that my muscle are weak and that I have to do things a different way.
I feel the more obstacles I overcome the better I feel about myself. I always say things happen for a reason. If I did not have Duchene, I would not be as mentally strong and would probably take things for granted.
The biggest challenge about Duchene is being different and not fitting in.
Which brings us to Partners for Youth with Disabilities (PYD). How did you get involved? What has the experience been like you? How has it helped you raise awareness for Duchenne?
PYD is a nonprofit organization for kids with and without disabilities. It is basically an inclusion organization that gets people with and without disabilities to work together. I got involved about three years ago when my mom brought me for the first time. The experience has been great. I have met many new friends and I have learned to accept my disability though this organization. I have been able to share my story and tell many people about Duchenne.
What advice would you give to someone with Duchenne when they consider joining similar programs? If their community doesn’t have a program like PYD, what could they do that’s similar? Any ideas?
I would tell someone with Duchene to just go out there and enjoy life. They should join as many groups as they can and to go out of their comfort zone and try new things. Kids with Duchene should raise money and start their own group. They could also ask the local community for help.
That’s a great idea! Finally, if you could have dinner with any three people, real or fictitious, living or deceased, who would you choose and why?
I would like to have dinner with Tom Brady, Tim Tebow, and Dustin Pedroia. These three athletes have overcome obstacles in different way. They were told they were not good enough, big enough, and could not play quarterback in the NFL. Like me they didn’t take “no” for an answer and worked so hard to get where they are. They also have done great work in the community and they truly care about other people’s needs.
Awesome, that would be a fun dinner! Anything you would like to add or any shout outs?
I would also like to recognize University of Massachusetts – Boston. They have done nothing but help me and let me get involved in many things. I would especially like to recognize the athletic department.
As soon as I walked through the door they let me help. The girls’ soccer team let me get involved. The men’s basketball team has also let me help out. These athletes have let me feel like I am part of their team. They really accepted me for who I am. They really have made me really feel good about myself and like I am actually making a difference. They consider me to be a good luck charm. The soccer team just won the championship for the first time this year. I would really like to recognize them in this article.
You got it! Thank you to the University of Massachusetts – Boston Athletic Department for embracing you and letting you help out. And thank YOU Michael for your strong will, determination, and for raising awareness to end Duchenne!
Read the feature about Michael in the PYD newsletter.
Will Nolan, Communications Director
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