Defying The Odds

By Jon Bottari, M.Ed. – Colorado Technical University Adjunct Faculty

According to a Northwestern University study, nearly 10.4 million children have been diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) since 2010. Doctors and psychiatrists report that there are many more cases which go undiagnosed, proving troublesome for youths as they grow older.  The surge in diagnoses has many medical professionals scratching their heads, particularly as conflicting reports  surface and heated debates over complications linked to medical treatments rage on. 

18 Gold, 2 Silver, and 2 Bronze
Michael PhelpsTwenty-two. The total number of medals won by the United States’ “all everything” swimmer, Michael Phelps. The unbelievable athlete whom everyone, with the exception of two-time British Olympic gold medalist Lord Sebastian Coe, believes is the best Olympian ever.  By age 15, he qualified for a spot on the U.S. Olympic swimming team and finished 5th in the world with his signature butterfly swim. Just a year later he was a world champion and the youngest male athlete to ever hold a world record in swimming.  The rest is history, and these are just his Olympic titles:

  • 2004: 6 gold medals, 2 representing world records and 3 Olympic records, plus 2 bronze medals
  • 2008: 8 gold medals, 7 representing world records!
  • 2012: 4 gold and 2 silver

It’s quite an understatement to say Michael Phelps is an accomplished athlete and someone Americans look up to as a success story. However, his road to success was not without bumps. At age 10, Phelps was one of the millions of American children diagnosed with ADHD. His symptoms were so disruptive that, at times, teachers, peers, and family considered giving up on him.

Michael’s mother, Deborah, recalls, “In Kindergarten I was told by his teacher, ‘Michael can’t sit still, Michael can’t be quiet, Michael can’t focus.’ I said, maybe he’s bored. The teacher said that was impossible. ‘He’s not gifted,’ came back the reply. ‘Your son will never be able to focus on anything.’” This experience motivated the Phelps family to prove all of the doubters wrong.  Instead of giving up, Deborah and Michael found ways to channel his focus to topics and activities he was interested in. Phelps proved he was able to focus on something: winning multiple world and Olympic titles and clenching 39 world records.

Maybe not all of us are blessed with the ability to swim, or play basketball, or write books. But all of us are blessed with something that makes us special and unique.  Let Michael Phelps and his story motivate you to find that something.  And no matter what that something is, refuse to believe that you can’t do it. Begin your inspiring story with “Yes, I can do this!” and do.

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CTU Faculty Jonathan BottariAs an adjunct professor of general education at Colorado Technical University, Jon Bottari, M.Ed., helps prepare new students for academic and career success. He earned his Master of Education degree with a specialization in Leadership of Educational Organizations from American Intercontinental University and serves as CTU’s Director of University Operations. See why he’s in.

Michael Phelps Image credit