Mike Smith’s message inspires DCHS students


Olivia Couch

Not only does he speak to the whole school, but Mike Smith stays the day at DCHS to meet up with smaller groups. He also dedicated his lunch time to eating with special needs students.

Olivia Couch, Co-Editor

Stand for the silent, speak for the broken. This was the message brought to the students at David City High School on Wed., Aug. 24. With words that seemed to have a positive impact on the student body and stretched past the ears of each person, it is safe to say the message will linger for years to come.

Thirty-three year old “professional teenager” Mike Smith walked into DCHS, as he had many other places nationwide, to spread word of what he does. His story begins back in middle school. He explained how he was the “new kid” and the “outcast” for the first few years. Yet that all changed when high school approached and Smith’s athletic nature blossomed. He was a three-sport athlete and claimed to suddenly hang with the ‘popular crowd.’ However, he also spoke of his high school self as a “jerk.” Coming from a small school, he held himself high and walked around not really caring what he was doing or who he was affecting.

Things took a rapid change for Smith upon entering senior year. “My dad sat me down and told me, ‘The doctors say I have cancer. It’s not looking too good,’” Smith explained. “And suddenly the little things I used to worry about like partying and football championships didn’t matter anymore.”

He wondered if his father would be proud of the man he raised in case he didn’t make it through. Deciding there was no way that would be true, he set out to change. And that’s exactly what he did.

“Mike Smith not only explained his life story, but the struggle and how he was able to make something of himself, even with all of his problems,” junior Jackson Hardin said. “It showed me that if I’m passionate about something, I can pursue it and make a living doing what I love.”

A kid named Page was attempt number one of Smith’s redemption. He was a special needs student at Smith’s school, and his coach recommended him to teach Page to swim. After just one day of lessons, Page was confident he could jump from the diving board, to which Smith responded with a “Heck yeah you do!” As anyone could’ve guessed, it didn’t go so well and ended with Smith dragging Page from the pool. With a stern talking to from his coach, he came to realize he didn’t care about Page. He didn’t want to teach Page to swim for the student’s benefit, but for himself. His coach’s words were something that are drilled into Smith’s mind to this day: “Helping people happens when nobody else is looking.”

Taking a different approach, Smith began to pursue a student by the name of Calvin. He was the ‘ghost’ of the school, and Smith was determined to change that. It all started with an invitation to the gym, to which Calvin smiled and responded with a simple,  “No.” However, they eventually became best friends. Smith took Calvin wherever he went, and eventually the school flipped, as other students began to follow the example he had set. To this day, Calvin lives with Smith and his wife. Smith even jokes about how Calvin has a whole room in his house dedicated just to fan mail from students across America.

“I got lucky bringing him here,” Couch said. “People kept bringing him back up to me, and thank goodness they did.”

Moving on to college, Smith continued pursuing the job of helping people. He started with giving the homeless new tube socks and ended up creating a foundation that combined his two passions: helping others and skateboarding. Smith’s “Skate for Change” foundation involves taking a backpack filled with anything you can give–socks, shoes, food, water, bags, and more–then skateboarding around the city and giving it to the homeless.

“He was different. Previous speakers had struggles, but they always had the similar ‘it worked out in the end’ without explaining all their failures that made them successful,” Hardin said.

Since the “Skate for Change” foundation started, it has now picked up and spread throughout the globe. Smith also owns a skatepark in Lincoln where anyone can skate, be creative, and drink coffee. However, this isn’t the end. Smith has big plans ahead, with one of his major upcoming projects being owning his very own school.

“I think Mike Smith has a very diverse range of experiences. Has he been the new kid who doesn’t fit in? Yes. Has he been the kid who is more athletically gifted? Yes. Has he been the kid who questioned his own values and wants to do better? Yes. Has he been the kid reaching out to help others? Yes,” DCHS Principal Cortney Couch said. “I think that no matter who you are, there is something in Mike Smith’s message that relates to you directly, and that just gets you hooked.”

No matter who you are or where you stand in life, you can make it big. As Smith would say: It all starts with helping people when nobody’s watching.

To learn more about Mike Smith’s message, click the following link: