Barry Friedman of Barry’s UTV Adventures is a living encyclopedia on the deserts of the southwestern United States, organizes rides in that area, and happens to be an acquaintance of mine. Anyway, Barry contacted me recently, eager to share that he met an incredible guy named Mickey Schechter. Mickey is disabled and has been on a few of Barry’s rides. Barry was impressed with how Mickey overcomes his disability, rides his UTV wherever the group rides, and Barry wanted to share Mickey’s inspirational story. Barry helped get me in touch with Mickey, and we talked on the phone for two hours. Time flew by as we chatted thanks to a shared love of desert riding and Mickey’s amazing story.
Mickey was a successful plumbing contractor with several employees when his life took an unexpected turn. Two years after starting his business, he went rock climbing with his girlfriend and another friend. His girlfriend had him on belay, and with no warning, Mickey’s climbing rope severed. He fell 75 feet to his presumable death. Using chest compressions, his girlfriend revived him, and he was airlifted to a nearby hospital. Mickey’s doctors prepared his girlfriend and family for the likelihood that Mickey wouldn’t make it. But Mickey defied the odds, enduring 38 surgeries and lots of hard rehab work. Two years after his accident he started working again as a plumber with the help of a walker to move around.
While in rehab, Mickey told one of his therapists that no matter how hard he tried that he couldn’t move his legs. His therapist looked at him and said, “Don’t talk. Walk.” With all the might he could muster, Mickey took his first steps that day. Since then, “Don’t talk. Walk.” has been Mickey’s motto and slogan. It is the name of his website and title of his public speaking engagements.
Mickey doesn’t rock climb anymore, but he is a certified deep water diver and an adaptive snow skier. He has tried his hand at rafting. He is an avid boater and is working on doing a backflip on a Sky Ski. More recently, Mickey discovered the world of UTVs. He is enjoying his new hobby and the sense of freedom that we all feel from it.
In 2016, Mickey purchased a 2013 Arctic Cat Wildcat. He bought, modified, and installed a set of Sure Grip hand controls – enjoying the new challenge of learning to drive off-road. But unfortunately, his first Wildcat’s life came to a tragic end while he was climbing a hill in Gorman, CA. Almost to the top, his car stopped short of the crest and tipped over onto its side. But when the group managed to push it upright, unbeknownst to them, the side-by-side wasn’t completely in park. To everyone’s surprise (or horror), it started rolling backwards, slowly at first, then barrel-rolled all the way to the bottom. It’s just lucky there was no one inside.
The insurance company declared a total loss and paid Mickey handsomely, enabling him to purchase the 2015 Wildcat he still has. Once his hand controls were swapped over to the new ride, he made a custom aluminum trunk lid, and modified the clutch cover so that changing the belt is easier.
Mickey’s favorite riding spots are Gorman, Miller Springs, Rower Flat, and Drink Water in Santa Clarita; as all of them make for quick riding fixes. Even though he prefers rock crawling over trail riding Mickey has participated in several of Barry’s rides and brings his infectious enthusiasm with him every time.
Now, Mickey is mostly retired from the plumbing business but actively working as a motivational speaker. Mickey also loves to keep busy with projects; he taught himself how to weld, recently bought a Tig welder to practice with, and is also in the process of restoring an electric patio boat with a tiki theme for his family to use at his neighborhood lake.
At the end of our conversation, I asked Mickey what he would want readers to walk away with if he was writing this article. With no hesitation he said instead of relying on others, he figures out ways to do things himself. No pity parties, his disability doesn’t limit or control him, and he won’t give up his independence. He wants to inspire and set an example for others.
When it comes to overcoming life’s challenges, Mickey Schechter sets a shining example whether you have a physical disability or not; his story has universal life lessons. I took away awareness to remember things can change in an instant, and to never take my life and abilities for granted.
I enjoyed getting to know Mickey and will be forever inspired by him. If you want to find out more about him, Mickey has a library of videos on TikTok and a YouTube channel. Links can be found at https://hihello.me/p/4487d289-4761-4a67-9427-5a2322b8a9c2.