Husband, Father, Veteran, Athlete, Advocate, Teacher, Small Business Owner
Mike Savicki grew up in Franklin, Massachusetts, as the eldest of three children. He attended Franklin High School where he was a varsity member of the soccer, basketball, and track teams while also managing to discover creative writing and the wonder of science. Then it was off to Tufts University in Medford, Massachusetts, where he earned a BA in political science and international relations. In his four years as a Jumbo, he was a member of the Zeta Psi fraternity, played varsity soccer, club rugby and volleyball. At the same time, Mike completed a four-year Navy ROTC scholarship program at MIT in nearby Cambridge, Massachusetts. He also ran two BAA Boston Marathons because, well, there are just some things in college one has to do.
In November 1990, while training to become a U.S. Navy F-14 fighter pilot, Mike Savicki sustained a severe spinal cord injury after diving into the waters off Pensacola Beach, Florida. In an instant, the then twenty-two year old went from being a fit, active, promising Naval officer – commissioned as the top flight candidate in the nation’s number one ROTC college graduating class – to an individual with a severe spinal cord injury who was challenged with learning to live life again using a wheelchair. As the United States sent its soldiers and sailors to the Persian Gulf, Mike was transferred from a Florida intensive care unit to the Veterans Administration Hospital, West Roxbury, Massachusetts.
After completing seven months of rehabilitation in a VA Spinal Cord Injury (SCI) unit, Savicki relocated from his family home in Massachusetts to attend graduate school at Duke University in North Carolina. Along the way, as he regained his independence, earned an MBA and delivered the commencement address, Savicki became involved in wheelchair sports. Competitions took him across the United States and around the globe to countries including Australia, New Zealand and Vietnam.
And now, just over half his life later, Savicki continues to pursue his passion. Not only is he a 22-time finisher (and five-time division winner) of the prestigious BAA® Boston Marathon (making him the only person to have completed the marathon on foot and subsequently in a wheelchair), he has also earned more than 100 gold medals in the National Wheelchair Veterans Games (the nation’s largest annual sporting event for athletes with disabilities). A triathlete since 1999, Savicki became the first quadriplegic to finish the 70.3-mile Beach to Battleship Half Ironman Triathlon in his home state of North Carolina in 2009. He also played quad rugby – a Paralympic sport more popularly known as MURDERBALL – for 13 years and spent three years as a high-performance program member competing for a spot on the Athens 2004 Paralympic team. He also loves kayaking, sailing, and fishing (but the fish don’t seem to love him).
His success extends well beyond athletics. After receiving his MBA, he accepted a full-time job as management consultant at Public Consulting Group, Inc., in Charlotte, North Carolina. From there, he landed a job as deputy director of World T.E.A.M. Sports, a non-profit for people with and without disabilities. In his free time, he began freelance writing and has since profiled a broad spectrum of professional athletes, political figures, and comedians. He is also a high school teacher who loves nothing more than seeing students of the Community School of Davidson grow and learn.
Savicki is currently the founder and chief of Afterburner Communications, which offers creative communications services, consulting and public relations for businesses and individuals. He is the recipient of the Tufts University Distinguished Alumni Award and the National Veterans Wheelchair Games’ Spirit of the Games Award. 2016 marked his fifth year serving as the spokesperson for National Mobility Awareness Month and he continues to advocate for the disabled especially veterans and those who want to get back on the road. His efforts and support were instrumental in passing federal legislation, H.R. 3471 – The Veterans Mobility Safety Act, during the 114th Congress.
Savicki married in 2010, and he and his wife, Sarah, welcomed a baby girl, Caroline, into their lives shortly thereafter.
Overcoming adversity, marathons, triathlons, degrees, companies, teams, books, magazines, speeches, advocacy efforts in DC and fighter jets? That’s nothing, he says. The real challenge? Keeping up with a kiddo whose life is unfolding each and every day.