Flourishing Families 2022

Page 8

Anne Malinoski

Leading with Intention Local kids aim high As parents, nothing excites us

like kids who chase big dreams— especially if those kids are facing unique challenges. Read on to learn about two young San Diegans who’ve accomplished big things this year.

Meet Mikey

Six-year-old Mikey of Chula Vista has been swinging a golf club since he learned to walk. Described by his parents as funny, sweet and determined, Mikey was born with bleeding on both sides of the brain. He was quickly diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy (CP) and partial paralysis. At the time, doctors weren’t sure if he would be able to sit up on his own. “The San Diego Regional Center helped us start Mikey on an early intervention program,” says mom Tina Zepeda. “They are amazing with finding resources and therapies.” Thanks to early intervention, Mikey was walking at 18 months and immediately pursued golf with his characteristic tenacity. “As soon as he had a club light enough to swing, he did it every day,” says Zepeda. “Every morning after breakfast he would go in the backyard and start practicing.” To date, Mikey has won three third place golf trophies and one fifth place medal. Because there are no adapted leagues for his age group, he has been competing with children who do not have disabilities. “His perseverance is beautiful, admirable and makes us proud,” says Zepeda. Mikey follows a special stretch and exercise regimen designed to maintain his muscle tone and flexibility. Along with practice, that’s about all he can do to stay competitive. Unfortunately, there isn’t much adaptive equipment available for golfers. During one tournament, he was able to borrow an electric golf caddy from Foresight Sports, which was very helpful. However, Zepeda says she still hasn’t found golf shoes that work with Mikey’s AnkleFoot Orthosis (AFO), a brace he wears on his left foot. Mikey’s parents believe he is most confident when he’s active— he also enjoys baseball, music and martial arts. As a family, they’ve placed high value on always trying, sometimes failing, and pushing one’s limits without dwelling on one’s limitations. “We encourage him to have fun,” says Zepeda. “We don’t make his disability the focus, we work around it and with it.” Follow Mikey’s golf journey: @mikeycangolf on Instagram.

8 • SNRFSD.org • SanDiegofamily.com • flourishing families 2022


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