LEXINGTON, SC (WIS) - Lexington man Mike Cox was born with intellectual and physical disabilities, but those close to him say you would never know it.
"He has overcome so much," Kelly Cox, Mike's mom, said. "At the time he was born, his prognosis was that he would be blind, severely intellectually disabled, and never be able to walk, and that's not Mike."
The now 36 year-old not only works full-time, but gives of his spare time every chance he gets, especially when it comes to volunteering for the Arc of the Midlands.
The Arc advocates for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Mike serves on the board of directors, as a self-advocate and as a volunteer for several of the Arc's programs.
Because of that, Arc of the Midlands CEO Melinda Moore nominated Mike as a WIS Community Builder in partnership with Mungo Homes.
"Mike is simply amazing," said Moore. "Service before self no matter what it is that we need done."
So we surprised Mike with the news that he was our latest honoree at a meeting Moore had staged about the Arc of the Midlands Kick-it Karate program at Capital Karate in Columbia.
The announcement was met with cheers by all of the people who had turned out for "the meeting" to support Mike. Mike told the crowd, "I enjoy giving back to the community, and it's fun."
"Mike shows the community that people with developmental disabilities are just like everyone else," said Moore. "They're no different. They live, they give back and it's a wonderful thing. He leads by example."
Mike has volunteered with Arc for more than 10 years.
"He has always reached out to others and because he needed help when he was little, he wants to help others and that's where his volunteering has come in," Cox said.
Mike also plays basketball on a Special Olympics basketball team called Carolina Courage.
"He helps out whenever I need him to," Mike's basketball coach, Tim Graves, said. "Mike will go in for an entire quarter and not come out of the game…he'll go for an entire game."
And while Mike's in the Arc's adult Kick-it-Karate class at Capital Karate, he also volunteers to help with young children with special needs in the same program.
"It shows a lot of the parents where their kid can go and their abilities," Chris Schaefer, manager of Capital Karate said.
"I don't mind helping out," Mike said. "As long as the kids are happy, I'm happy."
It's also clear Mike makes many others happy, as evident by all the people who turned out just to cheer him on for being named a Community Builder.
As a Community Builder, Mike receives a $1,000 donation to the charity of his choice from the Michael J. Mungo foundation. He says it will go to the Arc of the Midlands.