A Breath of Fresh Air: Mike Douglas

Posted by Janae Melvin on August 6, 2018 in 2018-michael-douglas003.jpg

We all say it, “God has a plan for my life.” It rolls off the tongue nicely, doesn’t it?

But what if you were born with a lung disease so severe that doctors announced you’d never attend school and your only hope was a lung transplant? What if you endured five surgeries by the time you were five years old? What if your mom quit her teaching career to take care of you? Don’t forget you have to wear oxygen 24 hours a day.

Junior Michael Douglas, Wellsville, Ks., knows God’s plan for his life is greater than anything ABCA3 Surfactant Deficiency (lung scarring) can throw at him and he proves it every day.

“God keeps waking me up in the morning,” says Douglas, “so I know He has a bigger plan in store for me. I am excited to see what this plan is!”

Douglas is the son of two OU graduates, Lisa Lickteig Douglas, ’86 and Mike Douglas, ’89. He grew up attending sporting events on campus but didn’t really know where he would attend college. For many years, college wasn’t even on his family’s radar. Diagnosed when he was only one year old, Douglas’ parents heard only negative predictions about their son’s rare condition. Their response was to pour positivity all over Douglas and encourage him to delight in each day. He chooses to rejoice in what he has instead of dwelling on his limitations. His older sister, Mikayla, has also helped in this regard by treating him normally and always being available to give solid advice, goof off with him or just find time to go to dinner as brother and sisters do. This reliable family dynamic got Douglas where he is today.

“He has embraced hardships and overcome obstacles to achieve great things in his young life,” says Andy Stiles, Director of Admissions. “He is a Franklin County High Achiever which provides a full-tuition scholarship to select students who participate in a rigorous competition of interviews, essays and portfolio submissions.”

Douglas majors in Sports Administration and is particularly enthusiastic about the KU Men’s Basketball program. In fact, due to Lawrence’s close proximity, Douglas toured that campus and considered it for his college career. However, he kept coming back to the idea of attending his parents’ alma mater. It is close to home (he commutes) and the small campus is ideal for a guy who gets out of breath when walking long distances or climbing hills. The choice was still up in the air when he had the chance to talk to Men’s Head Basketball Coach Aaron Siebenthall. That conversation sealed the deal.

“I went on visits to both campuses and liked them equally,” says Douglas. “I knew I wanted to be a manager for a sports team on campus. I was lucky enough to get in contact with Coach Siebenthall and he offered me the position of Director of Basketball Operations. After he offered me that position I knew I wanted to attend Ottawa University.”

“My responsibilities are to help out with anything the coaches need,” says Douglas, “I tutor players, run social media accounts, do office paperwork, help plan community outreach events, and run the timeclock and scoreboard at practice. I am really grateful that Coach Siebenthall allowed me to assist with the program because it is awesome to be around the team and gain valuable experience.”

Coach Siebenthall is quick to point out that Douglas also keeps the coaching staff supplied with gum and his D.J. skills during pre-practice are second to none. “He is more than a manager,” says Siebenthall. “He is truly a member of our coaching staff.”

“After road games I am usually one of the first people on the bus,” continues Siebenthall. “I like to get away from the crowd and decompress a little. I sit in the first seat. When Mike gets on one of our players follows him, carrying his oxygen backpack. It is always a different player and they are all so happy to do it because Michael is such a great person and he would do anything for our players. Seeing this always brings a smile to my face and helps keep a big win or tough loss in perspective.”

Perspective is everything to Douglas who has recently received fantastic news concerning his battle with ABCA3 Surfactant Deficiency. Due to advances in medicine over the last two decades, his new doctor put Douglas on a medicine specifically designed to improve his lung capacity. He won’t get out of breath as quickly; may someday leave his oxygen tank behind and hopefully will never require that long-predicted lung transplant.

“Although, my life is already pretty great, adding this medicine to my life will make it even better,”
says Douglas.

“Mike is an inspiration to everyone,” says Coach Siebenthall, “not because of what he has been through but because of how he lives his life every day in the present. He doesn’t have a bad day and if he does, you would never know it by looking at him or talking to him. Michael gave everyone on the team bracelets with the slogan of those who have his condition. I wear it every day. It says ‘Douglas’ and ‘one breath at a time.’”

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11 NIV