We know that life is full of lessons. Some we learn the easy way, some the hard way. Mike Heikes was riding in the front seat of a car in 1982 with one of his friends. Both had been drinking and Mike was not wearing a seat belt. His friend was speeding at 100 mph and missed a curve in the road, crashing the car. Mike was thrown onto the road that would be stained with his blood until it was resurfaced. The accident occurred the weekend before Mike was due to begin college.
The doctor told Mike's parents the surgery for his brain injuries probably would not save his life; however, Mike did survive. He was in a coma and partially paralyzed; the doctors did not know if he would ever be able to walk again. But Mike is walking today; he is a survivor but still suffers from short-term memory loss as a result of his brain injuries from the accident.
After the accident, Mike spent three and a half months in the hospital recovering from surgery. The accident and recovery period gave Mike a new mission in life. He shares his testimony to many and talks about the dangers of drinking and driving. Mike has been invited to share his life experiences with churches, schools, nursing homes and with parents. He hopes to be able to save one person and their family from having to go through what he did.
Mike also temporarily lost his driver's license in 1990 due to limited peripheral vision. During that time, he purchased a bike to ride to work. Though he had ridden a bicycle since he was a child, he realized he liked it. Even when his license was reinstated, Mike continued to ride his bike and over the next six years, he logged more than 85,000 miles. Mike then began to get involved in cross country bike rides and used that to raise more than $70,000 for the three hospitals that treated him after his accident: Lake Region Hospital in Fergus Falls, MeritCare in Fargo, ND and Sister Kenny Rehabilitation Institute in Minneapolis.
In addition, Mike has taken his mission a step further and also speaks about bike safety. Mike donates bicycle helmets to youth free of charge so they will be safe while riding. To date, he has given away more than three thousand helmets to boys and girls living throughout Minnesota and Eastern North Dakota. Mike uses his cross country rides to raise money to provide the free bike helmets.
Many individuals and families have benefited from Mike's speeches as well as his helmet donations. Some he may never know about and he is happy to hear from some of the recipients of his service. However, Mike will continue to raise money for bike helmet donations and share his life story in hopes to continue to save lives.