'Meeting the Moment': Special Olympics Michigan introduces brand new podcast

A platform for athletes, parents, unified groups, law enforcement partners and more to share their stories and inspire change
Meeting the Moment Special Olympics Michigan podcast
Posted at 3:54 PM, May 24, 2023
and last updated 2023-05-24 19:40:56-04

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — So many athletes, and people connected to Special Olympics, have incredible stories to share. Now, the nonprofit is giving them a platform to make sure their voice is heard and inspire others in the process.

'Meeting the Moment': Special Olympics Michigan introduces brand new podcast

At 5 a.m. Thursday, Special Olympics Michigan will debut its brand new podcast, called "Meeting the Moment."

It will feature athletes, parents, unified groups, law enforcement and more. Anyone who has a story will have the chance to spread their message.

One of the athletes you'll hear from in the first batch of episodes is Max Hinga. The 20-year-old joined Special Olympics around 2011.

“I knew that Special Olympics was a safe place," Max said during the episode. "It was a place where I could make a bunch of friends that are considered family now, and that everybody there would be nice to me and accept me for who I am.”

Hinga faced a number of challenges growing up with autism.

“I had a little church group. We went on Saturdays. After I was done with that, they would always pick on me," he explained on the podcast.

"No" was a word he heard a lot.

“When I was younger, doctors (told) me I would never walk, ride a bike, drive a car, and I pretty much have done all those things," Hinga told FOX 17. "I just completed the Boston Marathon a few weeks ago.”

Those two letters controlled other people's vision for Hinga's life. However, they were never a part of his own.

"It makes me turn on a switch to say, 'I will turn it into a yes. I can do it,'" he said. "No one can ever tell me 'no.' I will always do it, no matter what I could have to do to complete it.”

You tell Hinga he can't walk? He just completed the Boston Marathon. You tell him he can't drive a car? He just got his license in 2020. You say he can't go to school? Well, Hinga just earn his degree from Kalamazoo Valley Community College.

Hearing "no" was just motivation.

“All the challenges I have faced since I was younger and being able to meet that moment and strive through those challenges," Hinga said.

Those challenges, meeting their match, with Max, meeting the moment.

That's both the name of, and the idea behind, Special Olympics Michigan's new podcast.

Lourin Sprenger, host of the podcast and Special Olympics Michigan's marketing and communications director, said, “our athletes, because of the world that they live in, as they are working on breaking down these long standing barriers, they face that moment every single day.”

Sprenger said the focus of the podcast isn't just to highlight the athletes, but anyone who's had an impact on the organization.

“It takes a village, I guess, is the easiest way, way to explain it," she said. "Everyone has such amazing stories. Everyone's moments where they've faced change are different. So it's not just about our athletes. It's not just about the Special Olympics movement. It's about people working to make themselves, or the world, a better place and being brave enough to push through that discomfort to make it happen.”

The podcast is about a year in the making. Thursday morning, that vision comes to life.

The first five episodes will be released, including Hinga's story.

Before that happens, he has a message:

“If anybody gets doubted out there ,just continue to do what you are. I have got a quote to go by — 'tomorrow's not promised.'”

Maybe Hinga's mentality will inspire others to think the same way.

Sprenger said, “hearing the word 'no' time and time again — How is that not defeating? That just goes to show our athletes' spirit and their courage and their determination. To make something that could be considered an overwhelming negative, a positive? We need more more of that in the world!”

You can listen to the podcast by searching "Meeting the Moment" on Spotify.

Again, the first five episodes will be released all at once Thursday at 5 a.m. Then, Special Olympics Michigan will air another episode every Thursday after that through the end of June, before taking a break for the summer and returning in September.

You can follow SOMI's Facebook and Twitter for more information.

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