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East Grand Rapids siblings overcome disabilities and compete in varsity sports

By: Scott Burnstein, September 29, 2015, 12:34 pm




East Grand Rapids – The odds don’t faze siblings Brendan and Madison Micho. The pair of student athletes from East Grand Rapids High School have been overcoming the odds their whole lives.

Brendan, a senior football and hockey player, and Madison, a junior girls basketball and girls lacrosse player, were born deaf. Both are able to hear through cochlear implants, surgically implanted electronic devices that create a sense of sound for the hearing impaired. When Madison received her implants at only 13vmonths old she became the youngest patient to ever undergo the procedure at the renowned University of Michigan Hospital in Ann Arbor (Brendan’s procedure was performed at 18 months).

Their hearing isn’t great. They face an uphill battle every day to hear the intricacies of sound that most people take for granted. But they achieve and they live life despite the physical hurdles.

“Those two are unbelievable, just awesome kids,” said East Grand Rapids football coach Peter Stuursma. “Tough as nails, both of them.”

Brendan is the starting place kicker and punter. East Grand Rapids (4-1) is fresh off last Friday’s 21-14 victory over Grandville where Brenden connected on all three extra point attempts.

He also plays forward on the Pioneers’ hockey team.

“He does an outstanding job for us handling kicking and punting duties,” Stuursma said. “We have a lot of faith in him. The technology is amazing, he just “plugs in” and he’s ready to go.”

Madison has a grade-point average of just below 4.0 and has a reputation for tenacity in the classroom, on the basketball floor and on the lacrosse field.

“Madison is as intense with her studies as she is in the sports she plays,” Stuursma said

Stuursma points to their parents, Mark and Faith Micho, as major reasons why they have achieved so much in life and in the athletic arena.

“Mark and Faith are great advocates for their children,” Stuursma said. “And one of the best ways they’ve done that has been by teaching Brendan and Madison to be great advocates for themselves.”

Mark and Faith Micho were both varsity athletes at nearby Rockford in their high school days. Mark played football at Hope College, the school Brendan hopes to attend and either play football or hockey.

“We’ve always asked their teachers and school principles to treat them as normal as possible,” Faith said. “We want them to be independent. From an early age, we had them around kids who could hear, we encouraged them to play and participate in as many sports and school activities as possible. They’ve worked so hard. They have the same expectations for themselves as if they had perfect hearing. And that’s what you’ve always wanted to strive for as a parent.”