Mike Patrick selected as featured speaker for KTD
WORTHINGTON -- As a youth growing up in Worthington, Mike Patrick had the opportunity to hear such notables as Nelson Rockefeller and Robert Kennedy address the crowd at King Turkey Day.
But Patrick missed Peace Corps founder Sergeant Shriver's speech in 1971. Just a couple weeks prior to Worthington's annual community celebration, Patrick suffered a tragic injury during a Worthington Trojan football game, breaking his neck and leaving him paralyzed from the chest down. He was in a hospital on King Turkey Day 1971, confined to a Stryker frame that had to be flipped every two hours.
Now a motivational speaker and health educator living in the Twin Cities, Patrick will put his own spin on his hometown celebration as the featured speaker for King Turkey Day 2012.
"It's a true honor to be asked to give the keynote address which has been given by such famous people like Robert Kennedy, Richard Nixon, George McGovern, Walter Mondale and Worthington's own Liz Collin, to name just a few," said Patrick.
For most of its history, the King Turkey Day podium has served as a political forum, with the majority of the speakers either holding or running for political office. In recent years, however, the KTD Board has actively sought less partisan orators, including U.S. Navy veteran and WHS alumnus Andrew Kirkwood, outdoor TV personality Babe Winkelman, Honor Flight Founder Earl Morse and WCCO anchor Collin, another WHS alumnus.
As a motivational speaker, Patrick has talked to business, school, community and religious groups across the country -- more than 5,500 such organizations, he estimates. His presentation, "Think About It," is designed to help individuals overcome obstacles, creatively solve problems and perform successfully. His basic premise is "The problem isn't the issue; the issue is how you deal with the problem," using his own struggle to overcome the obstacles in his life and adjusting to daily challenges as a framework for his presentations.
Since his remarks on Saturday will be brief, Patrick expects to deliver a message that is geared toward his audience with an emphasis on education.
"They're only giving me 15 minutes. I can barely introduce myself in 15 minutes, he said with a laugh. "I want everyone to take something away from my basic philosophy. ... I don't talk about disabilities, I talk about capabilities. We are all capable people; we just have to realize what those capabilities are."
Last year, Patrick penned a book, "I Still Believe in Tomorrow," that tells the story of his injury and life since that fateful day in 1971. It was first released as an e-book and is now available in paperback book form.
"I'm real proud of the book," said Patrick during a previous interview with the Daily Globe. "It's not a long read, but it's a read that people are telling me once they pick it up, they can't put it down."
Patrick is looking forward to being part of this year's King Turkey Day festivities.
"I am anxious to come to King Turkey Day, which is always a special day because I get to see and catch up with friends from my life in Worthington," he said.
"I am also curious to see how they get me up on the flatbed stage," added Patrick, who is confined to a heavy, motorized wheelchair. "We'll see what 'Access Worthington' is all about."
Patrick's address is slated for 1 p.m. Saturday on the speaker's platform at 10th Street and Fourth Avenue. Additionally, Patrick will do a book signing from 10 a.m. to noon at Center Sports in downtown Worthington and following his speech on the Nobles County Government Center lawn. He will also conduct a school assembly Thursday in Edgerton, where his family lived prior to moving to Worthington.
Daily Globe Features Editor Beth Rickers can be reached at 376-7327.