"I realized at my first meeting with Mike Stephens and the Lakeshore team, that vision and leadership was what made Lakeshore unique and impactful! That is one of the significant factors behind Lakeshore being designated as a USOC training site. As for Mr. Stephens, through his brilliance, passion and dedication, he has served as an international leader in the development of the Paralympic movement. Personally, my favorite moments are the times that I get with him privately, where his ongoing mentoring, advice, and friendship contribute to me being a better leader and person."
Charlie Huebner, Chief of Paralympics, United States Olympic Committee
Sports Rehabilitation and the Human Spirit tells the intersecting story of a man, Michael E. Stephens, and an organization, the Lakeshore Foundation of Birmingham, Alabama. The Lakeshore campus is world-renowned for rehabilitation, sports, and fitness services for children and adults who have experienced physical disability as a result of injuries, birth conditions, illness, or in service to our nation. The people who partake of the services at Lakeshore include those with paralysis, amputations, and limited mobility and function due to muscular dystrophy, multiple sclerosis, cerebral palsy, spina bifida, stroke, and other health conditions that could present significant physical challenges.
Stephens, who experienced a spinal injury and paralysis as a young man, later became a successful hospital executive and entrepreneur. The foundation, which came out of Stephens's work, now operates a 45-acre campus. The showcase of the campus is a state-of-the-art, 126,000-square-foot building that hosts many regional and national competitions for individual and team sports for those with physical disabilities.
Some Lakeshore participants engage in sports and recreation for fun, others are Lakeshore-based athletes engaged in competitive sports, and still others are Paralympic and Olympic athletes who come to Lakeshore Foundation for training. In 2003, Lakeshore was designated by the United States Olympic Committee (USOC) as an official United States training site for Paralympic and Olympic athletes.
The stories of Mike Stephens and Lakeshore are told here, along with the inspiring accounts of many individuals with disabilities who have rebuilt their lives through sports and fitness.