Disability doesn’t hinder middle-schooler’s dreams

Over 10 years ago, Midway Middle School student Blair Milliken was in a car accident near Siler City, an accident which has changed his world but has yet to destroy his desire for his dreams.

This month Milliken has been honored as the March Special Olympics North Carolina Athlete of the Month, and he has gone from county to regional to state competition.

“Blair was in a car accident when he was five,” said his mother, Michelle Milliken, in a telephone interview earlier this week. “He had a TBI (traumatic brain injury) that left him in a newborn state.” The May 2003 accident forced the family to start from scratch, she said, and at one point his mom had to take a year off of work to handle everything.

“He has had to learn everything all over again,” she explained. “He learned to run.” With that running he has also had to come into other milestones that are often taken for granted. He just learned to tie his shoes two years ago,” she said.

Yet at 16, Blair is succeeding, reaching out and participating in the Special Olympics, and placing high in competitions. Right now he competes in the sprint, which she said is similar to a five meter dash. He also does the softball throw and a jump as well.

“It means a lot to run really fast and for other people to know what you are capable of doing, those accomplishments and achievements,” Blair explained. “It’s great and a lot of fun.”

“He placed first in regional,” his mom added proudly. “He also placed second in state in the sprint.” In the jumping and softball throw, he placed third.

“It has been really awesome,” his mother added, emotion rising in her voice. “Everything he does is relearned; it’s a miracle. It’s been a challenge at times.” She also mentioned that his father and sister were at the regional competitions supporting him as well.

“The reason I like Special Olympics is because I get to meet new people, go new places and meet other friends,” said Blair in an interview on Tuesday. “I like to see what they are capable of doing.”

“This has been a life-changing experience,” Michelle said. “He is always learning something new.” She said that the doctors told her that he broke the mold, and that they never expected him to achieve these things.

“He has been exceeding all expectations,” she detailed further. She said that her son hopes to one day have a job and maybe a car. He really wants to be a singer.

“Blair had a service dog for a while,” Michelle recalled. The dog has since been retired, but has been allowed to stay with the family even though that is usually not the case. Flopsy is a chocolate Labrador.

“He also loves origami,” Michelle added. He is known to give away his creations to people at his school, and is described as a very giving person. His mother said that he watches Youtube videos on how to make different origami creations and then goes on to create his own versions.

“He’ll make eight at a time and just hand them out,” said Michelle.

Monday night Blair was recognized by the Sampson County Board of Education for his participation in Special Olympics.

“He was very excited,” his mother attested. “He was glowing, he was so excited. He informed everyone what his medals were for.”

Sampson County did not have Special Olympics for the longest time, she said, and they just brought it back, which has been great for Blair since he could not compete in the regional or state level without a local competition. For local competition they have to do their own fundraising and volunteers recruitment.

“It’s very interesting to do all those things that you never thought you could do,” the middle-schooler added.

Blair is in the eighth grade at Midway Middle School. He is the president of the Special Education classes at his school, and his sister is a senior at Midway High.

Michelle Milliken works at Midway Elementary School as the school librarian.

To see more about Blair Milliken see the Special Olympics of NC website at sonc.net/blair-milliken/. ---

Emily M. Hobbs can be reached at 910-592-8137 ext. 122 or via email at ebrown@civitasmedia.com.

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