April is Autism Awareness Month – Were you aware of Northport’s Mikey Brannigan? I sure wasn’t!!!
Photo of Mikey Brannigan and Sonja Robinson above provided by Fritz Garrecht
I like to think I’ve got a pretty good handle on the inspiring people of Long Island, especially in the Huntington area. I literally make it my business to know these things.
The best part about that? Realizing, no matter how hard I try, I will never begin to grasp it all.
First I learned "The Little Prince" was Written in Asharoken
For one. I was recently amazed to learn that “The Little Prince” (which I was blessed to be introduced to when a dear child handed it to me in grave seriousness many years ago), was written in Northport’s close neighbor, Asharoken. On one hand, given the gorgeous statue in the Northport-East Northport Library, I’m kind of surprised I didn’t learn earlier. However, on the other hand, given that the whole library there is an incredible, artistic ode to literature and more, I can see why I perhaps thought he was just one more aspect of that celebration.
BTW, they just celebrated the 80th birthday of that classic tale written by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry at the Northport Historical Society. I strongly recommend you check out all the other amazing things they have going on there!!!
Then I Learned About Mikey Brannigan - WOW!
The other gem – a “Pink Diamond” that was recently held up to sparkle at me is much more current. Frankly, my missing it surprises me even more: Mikey Brannigan.
Did you know that the first Paralympic athlete to ever break a 4-minute mile, and who has in fact run two miles in under nine minutes was born and raised in Northport? Yessir!
New York State record holder Mikey Brannigan graduated from Northport High School in 2015 a local hero and, despite the huge setback that was COVID, has great hopes for the future.
This Guy is Golden
Mikey’s been compared to Forrest Gump, but faster and perhaps even wiser despite having an IQ below 75. He has won the Paralympic Gold, broken three T-20 world records, was named the Sports Illustrated High School Athlete of the Month in 2015, and in 2017 he was named Team USA’s Male Paralympic Athlete of the Year.
He is charming, ever uplifting, and currently taking college-level public speaking classes and more in addition to his rigorous work schedule.
The Mikey Mile and More to Come...
There is movement to name the route he regularly took around Crab Meadow the “Mikey Mile,” and to reengage the Village of Northport – especially its young people — in this man’s remarkable story.
His coach and caretaker Sonja Robinson is a precious gem herself. She has been compared to Helen Keller’s Anne Sullivan. In this case though, it’s running rather than running water that she uses as her medium to reach Mikey, and to guide him in realizing his fantastic potential.
There is so much to talk about regarding them, about running, about coaching, about our society, about life as a special needs individual both in sports and academia … I’ve only just begun to scratch the surface, there is so much to learn! I look forward to sharing more…