October 20, 2011
Mike Savicki is a longtime friend and fellow board member of No Barriers. A 1990 Tufts graduate and currently one of the top wheelchair marathoners in the country, he recently received the 2011 Distinguished Achievement Award (DAA) from Tufts.
The DAA was established to recognize extraordinary contributions to sports by individuals with Tufts and/or New England identities. Savicki joins an outstanding list of DAA recipients. Boston Celtics legend Red Auerbach was the first to receive the honor in 1987. New England Patriots and Revolution owner Robert Kraft was the 2003 honoree. Savicki is the 28th individual to receive the DAA.
"Mike Savicki's story is an inspiration to each and every one of us," said Director of Athletics Bill Gehling. "For everyone, the challenge of facing and overcoming adversity is a test that defines our character. Mike has passed that test with flying colors. He has not only overcome a life-changing disability, but he has gone on to redefine what many think of as possible. As a person, athlete, role model and advocate, Mike is exceptional. We are so proud to be able to honor a fellow Jumbo with this award."
Prior to his injury, Savicki was a three-sport varsity athlete (soccer, basketball, track) out of Franklin High School in Massachusetts. He came to Tufts on a Navy ROTC scholarship and was a member of the varsity soccer team. While at Tufts, he ran the 1989 and 1990 Boston Marathons. Along with earning a bachelor's degree in Political Science and International Relations, Savicki was recognized in NROTC as Outstanding Naval Aviation Candidate.
He was poised to serve the country, but his life would soon change dramatically. In November 1990 while in flight school to become an F-14 pilot, Savicki sustained a C6,7 spinal cord injury from a dive into the waters off Pensacola Beach, Florida.
Though his physical abilities had changed, he was not deterred. After spending eight months in rehabilitation, he entered Duke University's Fuqua School of Business and became only the second student in a wheelchair to earn an MBA degree in 1994. He delivered the commencement address.
Introduced to wheelchair sports while in rehabilitation, he pursued it like a champion.
"Sports were more fun than staying in bed feeling sorry for myself," he lightheartedly remarks on his website, http://www.mikesavicki.com/.
Among the more than 55 marathons Savicki has finished are 18 Boston Marathons, and he is a five-time champion of the race including four straight from 2007-10. He is the only person to ever finish Boston both on foot and in a wheelchair.
A triathlete since 1999, he became the first complete quad 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 for 13 years and spent three years as a national team member competing for a spot on the Athens 2004 Paralympic team. He has won 69 gold medals at the National Veterans Wheelchair Games from 1991-2011.
His ambitious professional life includes working as a management consultant, serving as an advocate for people with and without disabilities, and freelance writing among other ventures. He has also begun work on his first book. He is the Founder and Chief Thinker of Scratching Post Solutions, an innovative communication and creativity enterprise, and volunteers on the Board of Directors of the non-profit, No Barriers USA, a powerful community of modern day pioneers who use the experience of nature to promote innovation, education and assistive technologies that create transformative life experiences and inspire people with challenges to live full and active lives.