Slovak-born Canadian ice hockey player
Mikita with the Chicago Black Hawks in the 1960s
|Born||(1940-05-20)May 20, 1940|
Sokolče, Slovak Republic
|Died|| August 7, 2018(2018-08-07) (aged 78)|
Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
|Height||5 ft 9 in (175 cm)|
|Weight||169 lb (77 kg; 12 st 1 lb)|
|Played for||Chicago Black Hawks|
Stanley Mikita (born Stanislav Guoth; May 20, 1940 – August 7, 2018) was a Slovak–Canadianice hockey player for the Chicago Black Hawks of the National Hockey League, generally regarded as the best centre of the 1960s. In 2017, he was named one of the 100 Greatest NHL Players. He became the first Slovak-born player who won the Stanley Cup in 1961.
Mikita was born in Sokolče, Slovak Republic, as Stanislav Guoth and raised in a small farming community until 1948 when he moved to St. Catharines, Ontario. He was adopted by his aunt and uncle, Anna and Joe Mikita who had emigrated from Slovakia to Canada 20 years earlier and were childless. They came to Slovakia to visit the Guoth family before Christmas in 1948 and took the 8-year-old Stan with them when they went back to Canada. His parents believed that there was a brighter future for him in Canada than in then Communist Czechoslovakia. His aunt and uncle also gave him their surname.
Stan considered himself Slovak, and mentioned in interviews how proud he was of his Slovak origin. 
After three starring junior seasons with the St. Catharines Teepees of the Ontario Hockey Association, Mikita was promoted to the parent Chicago Black Hawks in 1959–60. In his second full year, in 1961, the Black Hawks won their third Stanley Cup. The young centre led the entire league in goals during the playoffs, scoring a total of six.
The following season was his breakout year. Mikita became a star as centre of the famed "Scooter Line", with right wing Ken Wharram and left wingers Ab McDonald and Doug Mohns. Combining skilled defense and a reputation as one of the game's best faceoff men using his innovative curved stick, Mikita led the league in scoring four times in the decade, tying Bobby Hull's year-old single-season scoring mark in 1966–67 with 97 points (a mark broken two years later by former teammate Phil Esposito and currently held by Wayne Gretzky). The 1967–68 season, an 87-point effort from Mikita, was the last year a Chicago player won the scoring title until Patrick Kane's 106-point 2015–16 season.
In his early years, Mikita was among the most penalized players in the league, but he then decided to play a cleaner game and went on to win the Lady Byng Memorial Trophy for particularly sportsmanlike conduct combined with excellence twice. Mikita's drastic change in behavior came after he returned home from a road trip. His wife told him that while their daughter, Meg, was watching the Black Hawks' last road game on television, she turned and said, "Mommy, why does Daddy spend so much time sitting down?" The camera had just shown Mikita in the penalty box again.
During his playing career, in 1973, Mikita teamed up with Chicago businessman Irv Tiahnybik to form the American Hearing Impaired Hockey Association (AHIHA), to bring together deaf and hard-of-hearing hockey players from all over the country, and he founded the Stan Mikita School for the Hearing Impaired, inspired by a friend's deaf son who was an aspiring goalie. He also helped bring the Special Olympics to Chicago, bringing his family out to volunteer at races.
Internationally, Mikita played two games of the Summit Series in 1972 for Canada against Soviet Union, both of them in Canada, as well as two exhibition games also during the Summit Series, one against Sweden in Stockholm and one against Czechoslovakia in Prague. He also played several exhibition games for Czechoslovakia in summer 1967 when he came to his country of origin to visit his family.
Curved stick use
Mikita and teammate Bobby Hull were a well-known forward duo in the 1960s, gaining notoriety for using sticks with curved blades. Such sticks gave a comparative advantage to shooters versus goaltenders. As a result, the NHL limited blade curvature to ½" in 1970. Mikita reportedly began the practice after his standard stick got caught in a bench door, bending the blade before he hit the ice; he soon was borrowing a propane torch from team trainers to create a deliberate curve.
Mikita was also one of the first players to wear a helmet full-time, after a December 1967 game in which an errant shot tore a piece off one of his ears (it was stitched back on).
Mikita's later years were marred by chronic back injuries, leading to his retirement during the 1979–80 season. At that time, only Gordie Howe and Phil Esposito had scored more points in the NHL, and just six players had appeared in more games. Mikita was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1983, and into the Slovak Hockey Hall of Fame in 2002.
After retiring, Mikita became a golf pro at Kemper Lakes Golf Club. His other business interests, under Stan Mikita Enterprises, included making the small plastic sauce containers that accompany chicken nuggets at McDonald's. He owned Stan Mikita's Village Inn in the 1960s and 1970s, located in the Oakbrook Shopping Center, Oak Brook, Illinois.
Mikita provided the foreword to the children's book My Man Stan by Tim Wendel. Mikita is featured as a main character in the book.
He became a goodwill ambassador for the Blackhawks' organization, and in fall of 2011, the Blackhawks raised a statue honouring Mikita at Gate 3½ at Chicago's United Center. For three decades the Blackhawks Alumni Association has hosted an annual golf tournament named in Mikita's honour.
Mikita ranks 14th in regular-season points scored in the history of the NHL, and just three other players (Steve Yzerman, Alex Delvecchio, and Nicklas Lidström) have appeared in more games while playing for only one team over their careers.
Mikita appeared as himself in a cameo role in the film Wayne's World, which featured a "Stan Mikita" doughnut shop, spoofing the Canadian doughnut chain Tim Hortons (co-founded by Hockey Hall of Fame member Tim Horton). A restaurant named "Stan Mikita's" and closely resembling the movie's version opened in 1994 at the Virginia amusement parkKings Dominion and at Paramount Carowinds in Charlotte.
Illness and death
On May 24, 2011, Mikita was diagnosed with oral cancer and began external beam radiation therapy. On January 30, 2015, the Chicago Tribune released this statement from his wife: "Stan has been diagnosed with suspected Lewy body dementia, a progressive disease, and was under the care of compassionate and understanding care givers". In June, 2015, it was stated that Mikita had no memory of his former life and was being cared for by his wife Jill.
Mikita died at the age of 78 on August 7, 2018. He was survived by his wife, four children and nine grandchildren. On September 14, 2019, it was reported by the Boston University CTE Center, that upon performing a posthumous study of Mikita's brain, it was found that he suffered from stage 3 chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE, at the time of his death. This marked Mikita as the first Hall of Famer to ever have been diagnosed with the disease.
Regular season and playoffs
|1956–57||St. Catharines Teepees||OHA||52||16||31||47||129||14||8||9||17||44|
|1957–58||St. Catharines Teepees||OHA||52||31||47||78||146||8||4||5||9||46|
|1958–59||St. Catharines Teepees||OHA||45||38||59||97||197||—||—||—||—||—|
|1958–59||Chicago Black Hawks||NHL||3||0||1||1||4||—||—||—||—||—|
|1959–60||Chicago Black Hawks||NHL||67||8||18||26||119||3||0||1||1||2|
|1960–61*||Chicago Black Hawks||NHL||66||19||34||53||100||12||6||5||11||21|
|1961–62||Chicago Black Hawks||NHL||70||25||52||77||97||12||6||15||21||19|
|1962–63||Chicago Black Hawks||NHL||65||31||45||76||69||6||3||2||5||2|
|1963–64||Chicago Black Hawks||NHL||70||39||50||89||146||7||3||6||9||8|
|1964–65||Chicago Black Hawks||NHL||70||28||59||87||154||14||3||7||10||53|
|1965–66||Chicago Black Hawks||NHL||68||30||48||78||58||6||1||2||3||2|
|1966–67||Chicago Black Hawks||NHL||70||35||62||97||12||6||2||2||4||2|
|1967–68||Chicago Black Hawks||NHL||72||40||47||87||14||11||5||7||12||6|
|1968–69||Chicago Black Hawks||NHL||74||30||67||97||52||—||—||—||—||—|
|1969–70||Chicago Black Hawks||NHL||76||39||47||86||50||8||4||6||10||2|
|1970–71||Chicago Black Hawks||NHL||74||24||48||72||85||18||5||13||18||16|
|1971–72||Chicago Black Hawks||NHL||74||26||39||65||46||8||3||1||4||4|
|1972–73||Chicago Black Hawks||NHL||57||27||56||83||32||15||7||13||20||8|
|1973–74||Chicago Black Hawks||NHL||76||30||50||80||46||11||5||6||11||8|
|1974–75||Chicago Black Hawks||NHL||79||36||50||86||48||8||3||4||7||12|
|1975–76||Chicago Black Hawks||NHL||48||16||41||57||37||4||0||0||0||4|
|1976–77||Chicago Black Hawks||NHL||57||19||30||49||20||2||0||1||1||0|
|1977–78||Chicago Black Hawks||NHL||76||18||41||59||35||4||3||0||3||0|
|1978–79||Chicago Black Hawks||NHL||65||19||36||55||34||—||—||—||—||—|
|1979–80||Chicago Black Hawks||NHL||17||2||5||7||12||—||—||—||—||—|
* Stanley Cup Champion.
Statistics via HockeyDB
Awards and accomplishments
- Ranked 14th all-time in points, 18th in assists, 31st in goals, and 40th in games played (at end of 2017-18 NHL season)
- Won the Hart Memorial Trophy as most valuable player in 1967 and 1968
- Won the Art Ross Trophy as leading scorer in 1964, 1965, 1967, and 1968
- Won the Lady Byng Memorial Trophy in 1967 and 1968
- Stanley Cup champion (1961)
- Named to the NHL's First All-Star Team in 1962, 1963, 1964, 1966, 1967, and 1968
- Named to the NHL's Second All-Star Team in 1965 and 1970.
- Played in NHL All-Star Game in 1964, 1967, 1968, 1969, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1974, and 1975
- Won the Lester Patrick Trophy in 1976
- The only player in NHL history to win the Hart, Art Ross, and Lady Byng trophies in the same season, doing so in consecutive seasons, in 1966–67 and 1967–68
- Was named to Team Canada for the 1972 Summit Series, but only played two games due to injuries
- In 1998, he was ranked number 17 on The Hockey News' list of the 100 greatest NHL players
- Mikita's number 21 was retired by the Blackhawks on October 19, 1980; he was the first player to have his jersey number retired by the Blackhawks
- Mikita was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1983
- Mikita was inducted into the Slovak Hockey Hall of Fame in 2002
- The ice rink in Ružomberok, Slovakia, is named after him
- In 2011, statues of Mikita and Bobby Hull were installed outside the United Center, where the Blackhawks currently play
- The first player of Slovak origin who won the Stanley Cup
- ^"Stanley Mikita Obituary - Hinsdale, IL | Chicago Tribune".
- ^Diamond, Dan (1998). Total Hockey. Toronto: Total Sports Publishing. p. 1794. ISBN .
- ^Fischler, Stan; Fischler, Shirley (1999). 20th Century Hockey Chronicle. Lincolnwood, IL: Publications International, Ltd. p. 277. ISBN .
- ^Verdi, Bob (January 1, 2017). "Stan Mikita: 100 Greatest NHL Players". National Hockey League.
- ^ abcdefghiPrewitt, Alex (January 24, 2017). "Stan Mikita's legacy and grace endure even as dementia afflicts the Blackhawks legend". Sports Illustrated. Retrieved January 27, 2017.
- ^ abcd"Legends of Hockey – Stan Mikita". Legends of Hockey. Retrieved March 12, 2010.
- ^"1961 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs Summary". Hockey-Reference.com. Retrieved August 7, 2018.
- ^"1966-67 NHL Summary". Hockey-Reference.com. Retrieved August 7, 2018.
- ^"1968-69 NHL Leaders". Hockey-Reference.com. Retrieved August 7, 2018.
- ^"NHL & WHA Single Season Leaders and Records for Points". Hockey-Reference.com. Retrieved August 7, 2018.
- ^"2015-16 NHL Leaders". Hockey-Reference.com. Retrieved August 7, 2018.
- ^Mikita, Stan (1970). I Play to Win. New York: Pocket Books. p. 76. Retrieved August 8, 2018.
- ^"Pred 50 rokmi nastúpil legendárny Stan Mikita za Košice". sport.aktuality.sk. Retrieved August 3, 2020.
- ^"The shifts that changed the game: The curved blade". Arctic Ice Hockey. Retrieved August 7, 2018.
- ^"Who made the first curved hockey stick?". prostockhockey.com. Retrieved August 7, 2018.
- ^The 10 best player-inspired NHL rules changes
- ^ ab"Mikita, Stan -- Honoured Player -- Legends of Hockey". hhof.com. Retrieved August 7, 2018.
- ^Markus, Robert (December 14, 1968). "Stan Mikita Is on the Go All the Time". Chicago Tribune.
- ^"My Man Stan". Sun Bear Press. May 12, 2008. Retrieved May 21, 2008.
- ^"Hall of Famer Named Ambassador". November 13, 2008. Retrieved March 12, 2010.
- ^"Hull-Mikita: Unveiling of statues moving moment for Bobby Hull and Stan Mikita". tribunedigital-chicagotribune. Retrieved August 7, 2018.
- ^"NHL Points Leaders – All-Time – National Hockey League". ESPN. Retrieved August 7, 2018.
- ^"Most NHL Games Played with Single Franchise". Hockey-Reference.com. Retrieved August 7, 2018.
- ^"Kings Dominion welcomes world of Wayne and Garth". tribunedigital-baltimoresun. Retrieved August 7, 2018.
- ^"Carowinds Zone > Carowinds History > Paramount Parks". carowindszone.net. Retrieved August 7, 2018.
- ^"Chicago – Chicago : News : Politics : Things To Do : Sports". Chicago Sun-Times. June 16, 2012.
- ^"Blackhawks legend Stan Mikita facing 'serious health issues'".
- ^Kuc, Chris (June 15, 2015). "For Stan Mikita, all the Blackhawks memories are gone". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved June 15, 2015.
- ^"Blackhawks legend, Hall of Famer Mikita dies". ESPN. Retrieved August 7, 2018.
- ^ abcRoumeliotis, Charlie (August 7, 2018). "Blackhawks all-time leading scorer Stan Mikita dies at 78". NBC Sports. Retrieved August 7, 2018.
- ^"Study shows hockey Hall of Famer Stan Mikita suffered from CTE". USA Today. Associated Press. September 13, 2019. Retrieved June 8, 2020.
- ^Nathanson, Marc (September 14, 2019). "Stan Mikita is 1st Hockey Hall of Famer found to have had CTE". ABC News. Retrieved August 7, 2021.
- ^"Stan Mikita hockey statistics and profile". HockeyDB. Retrieved August 7, 2018.
- ^"Stan Mikita Stats". Hockey Reference. Retrieved August 8, 2018.
- ^ abcdef"Stan Mikita career stats". eurohockey.net. March 12, 2010. Retrieved March 12, 2010.
- ^"NHL All-Star Game History & Statistics". Hockey Reference. Sports Reference LLC. Retrieved August 8, 2018.
- ^Kay, Jason (April 2, 2015). "The Top 100 NHL Players of All-Time, Throwback Style". The Hockey News. Retrieved August 7, 2018.
- ^"Stan Mikita, Hall of Fame hockey star with Chicago Blackhawks, dies at 78". The Washington Post. August 9, 2018. Retrieved August 8, 2018.
- ^"ZIMNÝ ŠTADIÓN NÁM MÔŽU ZÁVIDIEŤ (+FOTO)". Ružomberský hlas (in Slovak). September 15, 2016. Retrieved August 8, 2018.
- ^Moving moment for Hull and Mikita, Chicago Tribune
Leading by Example: Steve Mikita on Life With SMA
In this video from the DNA Learning Center, attorney Steve Mikita recalls his time at Duke University and taking the bar exam as an adult with type 3 spinal muscular atrophy (SMA).
Learn more about the five steps of SMA diagnosis.
Mikita was determined to attend a “normal” college, not one specifically for people with disabilities. In 1974, he became the first freshman in a wheelchair to be accepted at Duke. Mikita never let SMA get in the way of his life so he devised ways to get around any problems. He is now an assistant attorney general for the state of Utah.
Read about the four different areas of SMA management.
SMA News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.
Utah attorney finds great success, despite lifelong disability
Estimated read time: 2-3 minutes
This archived news story is available only for your personal, non-commercial use. Information in the story may be outdated or superseded by additional information. Reading or replaying the story in its archived form does not constitute a republication of the story.
SALT LAKE CITY -- It can be tempting to feel sorry for ourselves when we are dealt a trial or struggle in life. But an attorney with the Utah Attorney General's Office hasn't let his wheelchair keep him from accomplishing remarkable things.
Steve Mikita has never taken a step in his life, never felt the weight of his body on his feet, never experienced the feeling of running. But that doesn't mean he's hasn't taken bigger strides than most people ever do.
He's just done it all sitting down.
"I always knew that yes, life would have its challenges and its inequalities," he said. "But at the same time, it has a great deal of meaning and beauty and opportunities to serve and love."
Mikita lives with spinal muscular atrophy, a condition that has deteriorated his muscles. But as an assistant attorney general for Utah and a graduate of Duke University and BYU, it's rarely his disability people remember -- it's his passion and enthusiasm.
"I have been given certain talents and skills that others do not have and it's one of my missions while I am still on this earth to bring voice and protections and opportunities to individuals who a lot of society still ignores, neglects and marginalizes," Mikita said.
He tirelessly represents the state agencies that help people exactly like him and many who are much more vulnerable -- Utahns with disabilities. What he lacks physically, he more than makes up for intellectually.
It's a skill Mikita says he learned from his loving parents.
"That instilled in me hope and faith and resolve and a spirit of tenacity that no muscle could ever give me," he said. "I was given a sense that my life meant something to someone and that my life had a purpose. I needed to focus on that which I could do and not feel sorry for myself for what I could not do."
All of us have challenges, Mikita says. His are just more visible.
He suggests focusing on our abilities, rather than our disabilities.
"Let's start reconstructing our lives and our future around what you do have, not what you've lost," he said.
Steve is the brother of KSL's own Carole Mikita. He was honored by the Utah Attorney General's Office with the Lifetime Achievement Award in 2007.
Mikita also authored a book that was just released called, "I Sit All Amazed." It is now available at Deseret Book.
E-mail: [email protected]
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Church Member Helps Others Succeed
Contributed By By Julie Dockstader Heaps, Church News correspondent
- As a stake disability specialist, Steve Mikita is able to help ward members learn to be the one to help members with disabilities in their wards.
- Brother Mikita was diagnosed with a neuromuscular disease as an infant and knows firsthand the difference another’s service can make in the lives of those with disabilities.
- Brother Mikita encourages members to be the angel that troubles the waters and comes to the aid of those in need.
“It takes one charitable person to see that person [with a disability] and say, ‘Bring them hither.’” —Steve Mikita, a stake disability specialist
“It only takes one.”
That was the adage Steve Mikita’s mother used whenever he faced some sort of fear or doubt that he could succeed because of having been born with a neuromuscular disease.
“Remember,” she would say to her beloved son, “it only takes one.”
That “one” has come in many forms in Brother Mikita’s life. In his 57 years, there was the university dean, a roommate, friends, and, of course, members of his family—especially his mother. It always seemed after making it a matter of prayer, some “one” would come along to remove barriers or offer friendship.
Today, anyone familiar with Brother Mikita of the Hegessy Ward, Sandy Utah Granite Stake, knows how often he is that “one” for others. For 28 years, he has been an assistant Utah attorney general who often protects the rights of people with disabilities. He is a motivational speaker who has lifted the morale of members of the U.S. Army and the American Legion. He has appeared on 60 Minutes to offer an opposing view to physician-assisted suicide.
And now, as a stake disability specialist, he is taking his mother’s message of the “one” to members of the Church.
“It only takes one bishop. It only takes one teacher,” Brother Mikita said, to make a difference in the life of an individual with a disability or a family. “It could only take one Relief Society president. It could only take one home teacher, one visiting teacher.”
Born in Steubenville, Ohio, to William and Mildred Mikita, “Stevie,” as his family called him, showed signs of muscle weakness in infancy. By the time he was 18 months old, he was diagnosed with a neuromuscular disease. But he defied the odds. First told their son had Werdnig-Hoffman’s Disease, his parents were told he had weeks to live.
Four years later, although having severe muscle weakness, he was an active, happy child playing with his brother, Billy, and sisters, Carole and Judy. (His sister Carole Mikita is the religion specialist for KSL Television in Salt Lake City.) He was finally diagnosed with spinal muscular atrophy.
But even then, “I’m one of the oldest people that they know of with this disease living in the world. My parents always said I have special things to do in this life.”
He was 4 years old when his father showed him the April 1960 issue of Look magazine, featuring former U.S. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt in his wheelchair.
“You’re going to do great things,” the older Mikita said, “because FDR did great things in his wheelchair.”
So began the boy’s journey. He later graduated magna cum laude from Duke University, where the dean welcomed him as the first wheelchair freshman on campus. He went on to earn a law degree from BYU and landed a job right away in the Utah attorney general’s office. Today, he represents the three largest state agencies, providing services and protections for individuals with disabilities.
But with all his achievements, Brother Mikita values most his testimony of the gospel and the faith his mother instilled in him and his siblings. (Mildred Mikita joined the Church when Brother Mikita was a boy. He was baptized while at Duke. Over the years, the rest of the family joined the Church.)
Brother Mikita sees his calling as a disability specialist as a way for others with disabilities to discover what his own faith and that of his mother’s did for him. “I think what this calling is about is to identify those children and adults whose talents and skills and gifts that were given them from the Almighty can find expression.
“Through the manifestation of those gifts, lives will be changed and hearts will be touched and spirits in a ward and spirits in a stake will be forever changed.”
He related how soon after being called as the stake disability specialist, he visited with one of the bishops. He entered the bishop’s office and said, “I understand you want to talk to me about a couple of members of your ward.”
The bishop replied, “Oh no, I don’t want to talk to you about a couple. I want to talk to you about eight.”
In offering advice to other disability specialists, he spoke of the inspiration that came to him while offering support to a bishop, but especially after listening and asking the right questions.
“I’ve learned from my legal experience that I cannot help a client resolve a dispute unless I fully understand what the issue is.”
Recalling his mother’s adage that it takes “only one,” he spoke of 3 Nephi 17 when the Savior healed all those who were “afflicted in any manner.” Brother Mikita added, “It takes one charitable person to see that person [with a disability] and say, ‘Bring them hither.’ ”
For Sandy Utah Granite Stake President Dave Castleton, the “one” for his stake has been Brother Mikita. Of the service the latter has offered, President Castleton said: “Steve has done an amazing job as our stake disability specialist. He has met with all of our bishoprics and stake council members and taught them many valuable principles in working with those with disabilities. He has helped us all understand the importance of integration rather than segregation. He has also offered his services to the bishops and other leaders to help find ways to more fully integrate those with disabilities as well as assist those with disabilities grow spiritually, emotionally, and socially.”
Speaking in September to a combined priesthood/Relief Society meeting in the Granite Ward in his stake, to which the youth were invited, Brother Mikita quoted from John 5:2–4, where the angel “troubled the water” at the pool of Bethesda, Brother Mikita said: “The reason why I am here is to ask you to help me trouble the water. I cannot do it by myself. I cannot dip my hand without your help. …
“I pray that you realize that someone is waiting for you to be that angel, to come down and to trouble the water.”
—Some of the information for this article came from Brother Mikita’s book, I Sit All Amazed. (Deseret Book, 2011)
I don't care what you're up against, what your challenges are, climbing Everest, swimming the Channel, fighting the high cost of living, every day facing a new ache and pain.
On the degree of difficulty scale, you will never approach Steve Mikita.
Steve has a degenerative neurological disorder called spinal muscular atrophy, which he was born with. His life has been one long parade of losing things: the ability to use his hands, feed himself, hold his head straight, wipe his nose, move.
Although no one keeps track of such things, at 55 he's believed to be the oldest person ever living with SMA.
Living being the operative word.
Mikita makes Mr. Incredible look like a slacker. Just getting up in the morning takes him two hours — and three aides. They bathe him, shave him, brush his teeth, dress him, feed him, knot his tie, the basic royal treatment. Overall he has a staff of 15 college-age aides who rotate around the clock, doing all the physical things for him that he can't do for himself, which is everything except talk.
"I'm the CEO of my body. I direct the operation but don't do anything," explains Steve with his trademark humor.
He spends his daytime hours in his electric wheelchair, which he can maneuver by nudging a toggle switch. He's rarely alone. If his hand slips off the toggle switch, he's as capable of putting it back as being the next man on the moon. He needs to be constantly positioned in his chair, his head adjusted regularly so he doesn't choke on his own saliva.
He can do three things: drive that chair, work a special computer mouse and speak.
Mikita's reaction: That's plenty.
He doesn't spend his days feeling sorry for himself. He doesn't stay at home, languishing in bed and watching movies all day long. He hires that staff of 15, pays each one of them out of his own pocket (which raises constant flags with the IRS, where they cannot grasp anyone having that many medical expenses), dresses like the cover of GQ in the trendiest fashions and with the latest haircut, and goes to work every day at the state Capitol where he's been an assistant attorney general for 29 straight years.
He's no figurehead, no charity case. Maybe he can't move but he can think. Man, can he. His IQ was once measured at 160, and with all he's used it it's probably higher than that now.
He was made to lawyer. He is a terrific advocate. "The great irony is I'm very forceful, very assertive, very aggressive — and I can't move," muses Mikita, "I'm the most independent dependent person I know."
The secret to his longevity?
After pondering the question, he gives a short answer and a long answer.
The short answer: "The will to live."
The long answer: "Because of the way I was raised."
His earliest cognitive memories are of William and Mildred Mikita telling him that he could be anything he wanted to be, that he wasn't different, he was unique.
He remembers his mother telling him over and over: "You've been given more than you haven't been given" … "God gave you a great mind; you better do something with it" … "As long as you have choices, you have life."
Consequently, "I've never seen myself as different," says the man who cannot move. "I have abilities and disabilities. They might be different than yours, but we're really no different. I choose to concentrate on my strengths."
He repeats the mantra he used to repeat continually to his mother when he was a boy: "I'm like everyone else, I just sit all the time."
As a tribute to his mother, Steve has written a book, "I Sit All Amazed," just released by Deseret Book in time for Mother's Day.
"This book is about understanding how to live rich, meaningful lives — even though our lives can have very difficult and tragic turns," Steve writes in the book's introduction. "All of us experience things that we never predicted could or should happen to us. … It is my hope that this book will help you face, bear, and even overcome the trials and tribulations in your life and your children's lives."
Words to live by from one who talks the talk and walks the walk like no one you've ever seen — without ever taking a single step.
Lee Benson's About Utah column runs Monday and Friday. Email: [email protected]
I noticed how her belly was growing, I frantically wanted to touch this miracle, to cuddle up to it. And now I'm heading to her, we didn't often meet at Rita's house, so as not to attract attention, but today she invited me herself. My husband had already gone to work, and we had the whole day at our disposal. The back door, as we agreed, was open, and I slipped into the house unnoticed.
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And if Alex hadn't picked it up, she probably would have crashed to the floor, unable to move. He did not carry it to the sofa, but spread it out right on the huge writing table. He unbuttoned his blouse, took off the bodice. He admired the perfectly folded juicy figure, where it seemed there was no extra centimeter, all proportions were normal.