Inspirational dad, WV
My kids are my life. To wake up every day and to know that they're my legacy and they're always a part of me. I know I have my kids. I don't feel like I'm alone. My kids inspired me to be greater, just to be better, to be an example.”
Find inspirational stories from hemophilia B patients in the B the Inspiration series.
My name is Mike Hefner, I'm from Smalltown, West Virginia. I'm a hemophiliac, severe. I found out I was a hemophiliac when I was six months old.
Hemophilia B patient
What inspires me is helping others, learning each day of my life, and just life in general.
So growing up with hemophilia was a very isolating event.
It kind of hit home when they wouldn't even let me go to school.
That was the big thing I had to deal with was the isolation, not going to school, not being around other kids.
But I decided in that light of the hemophilia, that wasn't gonna dominate my life. I made that decision when I was a young kid.
And I just realized that it made me, but it made me develop character, it made me develop my sense of study, it helped me to go on to graduate from college, first one in my family ever graduated from college.
It made me realize that I have something to offer, I guess that would be the right thing, that hemophilia in itself is not what I want to be known for. To me, the good has always outweighed the bad.
And those kinda things, kind of a blunt way to do it, hemophilia isolated me, but hemophilia has also made me the man I am today.
I tried to become, going through the teenage years and stuff, I still played sports. The doctors told me “don't,” and then I got hurt and ended up rolling my right leg, and that blew out my left knee at the same time. So I ended up in a wheelchair for two years.
Then the epiphany came in my life really was when my sister, older sister who passed, she graduated from high school and a bunch of boys carried me up in the gym in that wheelchair, and I looked at my mom and I looked at her, and you know, I promised her then that I would graduate from high school, and I would walk with my class.
And I did.
And since then I just made the determination in my life that whatever happens, the hemophilia's not gonna dominate me.
I grew up with what I consider to be two of the greatest parents.
My mom, no matter what was going on in my life, my mom was always there, she would listen, she would be there.
When I was in the wheelchair, she was the one who drove me through the therapy sessions, she was the one that made me push past my endurance, she was the one that wouldn't let me quit no matter how much the pain was.
My dad was a big inspiration to me. You know, he worked two jobs, he always found time for us kids. I was really close to my father.
When I got hurt and was in the wheelchair, my dad could've just easily felt sorry for me, but he went out and bought a riding tractor. We couldn't afford it, but he bought a riding lawnmower, and I'll never forget that.
And he said, you're not quitting. And he put me on that tractor, and he taught me how to mow the grass with that tractor. And he wouldn't let me quit, and he says, you're not quitting just cause you're in that wheelchair, and then he learned and he went and got farm equipment so I could start plowing the gardens. And so he was the big influence in my life. So that's where my giving nature comes from, is my father.
My mom and dad, when I was in the hospital on many occasions, would sleep out in the car. They didn't have money for a hotel room, they would sleep in a car in the hospital parking lot, when I'd have to go and stay at anytime in the hospital.
That's the kind of stuff that inspires me, that's made me want to drive to be more, because they gave me that ability to do that.
TITLE CARD: What else inspires you?
I always had that dream of being a father. I always wanted to be a dad.
My kids are my life.
To wake up every day and to know that my legacy and my, they're always a part of me. I talked about that isolation earlier in my life, and now I don't feel that isolation, cause I know I have my kids. I don't feel like I'm alone.
But she inspires me every day. My kids, I don't think they realize the impact they have on my life.
Jessica, you're supposed to tell all the good things about me.
MIKE: I just promised I'd never miss anything. So I remember Jess was at track, I take time off from work and I'd be there, yelling at her and embarrassing her.
That's what parents do. That's what we're all about, see, that's our goal in life, you know? We make that little list, what can I do to embarrass my kids today? I'm gonna wear some kinda funky outfit, check one. That's what I do. I don't know about anybody else, but that's what I do.
MIKE: No, but I was proud of her, everything she's done, I tried to be there.
But as far as, they've always been there for me.
They were always there for me, they always encouraged me, they took care of me. So that's stuff I can't put a price tag on.
They're good kids, even though they, you know, I think sometimes they don't think they live up to my expectations, but I don't have any expectations. As long as you're healthy, they're trying to make good decisions in their lives.
So I'm very proud of both of them, you know, I'm really proud of what they've accomplished and how they are on their own.
TITLE CARD: What keeps you going?
Those are the things that has made a difference in my life. It's not about being normal, it's just about being perceived that way. It's about feeling that way about yourself.
To be able to live your life.
I want, I want to serve people, I want to help people, I want them to look at me and say, hey, I know there's somebody out there worse but I don't wanna give up, because he didn't, and look what he's done.
I could've quit a long time ago. I didn't have to strive for anything, I coulda just been satisfied with what I had. I'll never be satisfied. I'll never be satisfied, because my mom, my dad, my kids, my grandson—they don't—I always have that hunger to be more.
It's because of hemophilia that I feel special now. I feel special. I really do. I look at people and they can look at me say, you haven't done, I'm thinking, I've done quite a lot. For a lot less. And what was the reason? Was, my hemophilia has given me an opportunity.
So, use it as an opportunity. Find somebody in your neighborhood that has it, may needs it, go talk to them, share your experiences, be part of that, don't sit on the back burner and wait for somebody to come looking for you. Go out and look and try to be helpful, it's phenomenal, it's phenomenal knowing that somebody might see this and it might help somebody that's struggling with something.
And if I can help out one person then all the stuff we've been through today and everything else, it makes it worthwhile, and it's not because of my ego or anything like that. It's just because we, that's what people should be doing for each other.
People should care enough about when somebody's struggling and stuff, and if you have a life goal, that's one thing again.
I didn't have a lot of people around me growing up that had hemophilia. For the longest time, until, oh my gosh, what was it, couple months ago? Until I met, I was the only hemophiliac I knew was in the state of West Virginia. So it was a couple months ago at a dinner, I met a--actually met a hemophiliac that was older than I was, and I thought, my gracious, what's up with that? They didn't make those any older than I did, so it was kinda cool.
So I say if you have a local hemophilia program, get involved in it. It makes a big difference. It's made a big difference in my life so far, just the small amount of time I've gotten it.
I think the biggest thing is to educate yourself about what the hemophilia is and how it affects your body, and don't take for granted that that's your lot in life. Learn to control your destiny. Learn about your, how the hemophilia acts with your body, to really push yourself, strive to be not known for that.
People might look at me and say, aww, poor Mike, he's on crutches, I feel so sorry for him. I'm going, no. Don't poor me anything. I've done more with my life in my 50 years on this Earth than you've probably done in however long you got left, because life to me is a challenge, and every day I want to climb that different peak, and that's what everybody should strive for, everybody should want. Don't let anybody set your goals, you set your goals, you set your standards. And I'm always going to be a peak climber. I may slide down the other side of the edge, but I'm gonna get right back up and go up it again.
Not all activities are appropriate for all people. Consult with your healthcare provider to determine which activities are appropriate for you.