HOUSTON – A local business owner took on thirty flights of stairs Saturday after being unable to stand less than four months ago.
For Mikael Anderson, the journey to the 25th floor begins one step at a time. In December, he couldn’t walk at all after an ATV crash on his Houston-area ranch.
“I bumped into a ditch, and then I just snapped the neck,” he explains.
MORE HOUSTON-AREA COVERAGE
Anderson woke up in pain in a hospital bed. He discovered that a spinal cord injury left him partially paralyzed. He could feel his legs but could not use them.
“When you can walk normally, you take everything for granted,” Anderson says. “You can’t even put on your clothes yourself. That’s really humbling.”
After two surgeries, he started working with the TIRR / Memorial Hermann team for rehabilitation. For three months, he chose inpatient physical therapy to speed up results, an option not available to most due to health insurance caps.
“He’s really never told me no. He pushes each and every day. I ask him; I put hard challenges before him,” says Michelle Sauer, Anderson’s primary physical therapy doctor at TIRR / Memorial Hermann.
“We know in physical therapy that intensity matters, and the harder that we push patients, the more that we get their heart rate up, the more challenges that we put before them, the better likelihood of their outcome,” she says.
During the rehab, the Swedish businessman was also working to become a part-owner of the historic Neils Esperson building which was once the tallest building in Texas and is known as the start of the Houston skyline.
“The day after his accident, the first thing Mikael said was reported to me [was] ‘whatever you do, be sure and get that Esperson transaction done, “says business partner and co-owner Dougal Cameron of Cameron Management.
MORE HEARTWARMING STORIES
Before the ink dried on the co-ownership deal, Anderson had thought up a new challenge: climb the building’s 30 flights of stairs to mark his speedy recovery.
“If you don’t put up goals, it would be difficult to keep the focus when you were hurt like this,” says Anderson.
The co-owners of the business hub say Viking details throughout the Esperson building mirror their partner’s story of forging ahead.
“This is what this building is about, really unusual entrepreneurial, hard-working of things, persevering kind of things,” adds Cameron. “There’s a lot of Viking in this guy; he may be all Viking!”
In just under an hour, Anderson conquered his stair climb goal, reaching the rooftop view of the building, welcomed by a round of cheers.
“I’ve actually never been up here because I’m afraid of heights,” Anderson says. “But now I’m too tired to be scared.”
He gets adorned with a medal by the TIRR / Memorial Hermann team. Anderson says his spoils of victory are meant to send a message to anyone watching that overcoming a difficult journey starts with putting one foot in front of the other.
“Start very slow and just take small steps,” he says.