At Warrior Foundation Freedom Station, we’re inspired every single day by the military heroes we serve. Meet Mike Spivey, a retired Marine Sergeant turned Paralympian, who shows us what it means to be unstoppable. Mike was among the first warriors to live at Freedom Station I. Today, he is happily married, a proud homeowner, and successful competitive snowboarder. Read our interview with Mike below and learn how you can help him reach his dream of competing in the 2022 Winter Paralympics!
WFFS: You were one of the first residents to move into Freedom Station in 2011, shortly after being injured in Afghanistan. What is your favorite memory about living there?
Mike: Whether it was having barbeques outside or getting together in someone’s cottage, we had dinner together almost every night. Many of the residents at the time were from the same unit. We fed off each other’s energy and pushed each other to do more – get in the gym, go golfing, get out of the house and enjoy nature. We were also able to talk to each other about the difficult things we’d all just experienced. The more you talk about it, the more you bring it to the surface, so you can process it and deal with it. That camaraderie was so important.
WFFS: You discovered snowboarding during a trip to Colorado and it quickly became a passion of yours. What is it about the sport that you love so much?
Mike: Being on a snowboard feels like freedom. When I’m around big crowds, it’s sensory overload. There are so many variables, and you can’t control what’s happening or what’s going to happen. On the mountain, everything else goes away. Even though I’m still aware of the periphery, I know what I can control and fully focus on my task. I also loved having the competition aspect back in my life. Snowboarding is like getting ready for a mission – there are guys right next to you who give you something to strive for – shave off a second here, make a faster turn, have a cleaner run, or reach a certain ranking. Unlike surfing or golfing, which I do to slow down and relax, I love the speed and adrenaline of snowboarding
WFFS: You’ve just launched a fundraising campaign toward your goal of competing in the 2022 Winter Paralympics in Beijing. What would it mean to you to make it there?
Mike: It would mean everything to me. If I was 20, I would pursue snowboarding for another 20 years, with dreams of making it to the Paralympics five or six times. That is the goal for this sport, and being able to live a life that you love is one everyone hopes to achieve one day. But with me being 39, it would be the pinnacle of my career and represent my retirement as well. All of the hard work and effort I put in for the past 5-6 years has really led up to this moment. It would also be a turning point. I’ll be done with competitive snowboarding after this, especially with all the other things I want to accomplish career-wise. I would be shifting gears to work toward supporting the next generation of adaptive athletes.
WFFS: What’s next for you? What are your future goals?
Mike: In between race seasons, I’ve been taking CNC machining classes at a vocational school. My goal is to become a machinist in the automotive industry, working either in San Diego or Colorado. I have my basic certification and will be working on my advanced certification next, which has been slightly delayed due to the pandemic. I hope to complete my robotics certification by 2022. My dream is to operate the robotic arms in manufacturing plants. I’m missing a hand, so I love the idea of working with giant robotic arms!
On the personal side, I’m committed to nurturing the next generation of up-and-coming adaptive athletes and preserving the sport of snowboarding. I’d love to create something similar to Freedom Station up in Colorado for adaptive athletes. The racing season costs about $40,000 a year. Housing will cost you $15,000 if you have a roommate, or $20,000 - $24,000 on your own. If you’re a young Paralympian or hopeful, it’s really tough to come up with that kind of money. If we could open up a housing residence, we could cut that cost in half. Athletes wouldn’t have to rent expensive houses or apartments during peak season.
WFFS: You’re an inspiration to many people, having endured a lot of hardship to get to where you are today. What gave you the strength to persevere, even when times were tough? Do you have any advice for people who are chasing their dreams?
Mike: The support of all the friends I’ve made over the years gave me the strength I needed. If it wasn’t for them, I wouldn’t have been able to do any of this. There were people who were always there, whom I could always count on. They shared so many nuggets of wisdom and knowledge with me. The programs put in place by nonprofits like Warrior Foundation Freedom Station, and their support, were also important in helping me reach my goals.
Mindset matters. If you look for a problem, you’re going to find one. If you look for a solution, you’re going to find that too - it just might not be as obvious or easy to see and do. There will always be things that initially hold you back, whether it’s money, physical abilities or pure self-doubt. Be stubborn. Don’t give up. Remember the reason that you started your dream is to have fun and enjoy life while doing something that you’re passionate about.
To donate to Mike’s campaign and help him reach the 2022 Winter Paralympics, visit