“I went on to lose close to 50 pounds and still live that lifestyle to this day, exercising regularly and eating only healthy foods.”

On this week’s “My SOWI Story,” we have Mike Pribek, a SOWI athlete from Manitowoc who– with SOWI’s support– has been able to stay healthy and physically fit.

How and when did you become involved with SOWI?
I did basketball skills when I was 12, but decided to try again when I graduated from high school. I joined again after graduation in 2011 and have been participating since.

What sport(s) do you participate in and what is your favorite sport?
Basketball (favorite), track and field, bocce and bowling.


Three gold metals after a state Summer Games competition

Mike 1

5K Running-A-Fair Fundraiser for Mike’s local agency

What do you like most about being involved with SOWI?
I like staying physically fit, and Special Olympics provides me the opportunity to do that. I also like seeing friends, and making new ones.

Tell us about one of your favorite memories with SOWI.
I have several – taking gold at state this year for basketball, taking three golds at the state summer games in 2014, and being the top fundraiser for our agency six years in a row, but my favorite is probably being named the Male Athlete of the Year in 2013, after being critically ill for eight months prior to that.

Male Athlete of the Year in 2013

Male Athlete of the Year in 2013

How would your life be different if you never joined SOWI?
I would not have the opportunities that Special Olympics provides for me stay physically active in so many different ways. I also would not have the friends that I have made through the different activities I participate in.

Why do you think other people should get involved with SOWI?
Special Olympics is a great opportunity to play different sports and stay physically active, and it is also a great way to make lifelong friends.


Talking to folks at a Healthy Athlete event

Anything else you would like to share?
I completely changed my lifestyle back in 2007. After a doctor’s appointment, I decided I needed to start exercising and making healthier food choices. I went on to lose close to 50 pounds and still live that lifestyle to this day, exercising regularly and eating only healthy foods. Health, nutrition, and fitness are all huge interests for me.

Another huge event in my life was back in October of 2012. My appendix ruptured, and because I do not recognize pain, by the time it was discovered the infection was pretty widespread. I spent close to three months in hospitals, had three major surgeries, and was fed daily nutritional supplements intravenously for six months. My total recovery period was eight months. I came back to Special Olympics mid-2013, and went on to win the Male Athlete of the Year. It was a very special time for me and my family.