Last updated August 28, 2008 9:19 p.m. PT
Where Are They Now: Mike Utley
Sense of adventure, sense of humor survived crippling injury
By DAN RALEY
Mike Utley went deaf in his right ear while having dinner in January. He was robbed of equilibrium and made so sick he had to seek a doctor the next day. He traded partial hearing for a nonstop fire alarm that still reverberates in his head.
This was nothing more than piling on for the former Washington State and Detroit Lions football player, left a quadriplegic nearly 17 years ago when the offensive guard suffered a spinal cord injury while slammed to the ground on a pass-blocking play.
The latest setback was another reason for Utley to feel sorry for himself, though that never happened.
"I don't take any prisoners," he said. "I don't put up with any crying or snibbling. I don't have time for it."
For the past decade, Utley, 42, has lived in Orondo, an out-of-the-way community that borders the Columbia River, sharing his three-bedroom waterfront home with his wife of six years, Dani. He remains resolute and hilarious, everything except hopeless.
His days are spent working out at his residence or at Gold's Gym in nearby East Wenatchee, taking part in some unlikely new adventure such as fighter-plane combat re-enactment, and running his home-based Mike Utley Foundation that is dedicated to finding a cure for spinal cord injuries.
On Sept. 27, Utley again will host his annual fund-raiser, the DAM2DAM Thumbs Up! Bike Tour, gathering riders together at Lincoln Rock State Park on Highway 97, beginning at 7 a.m. (register online at http://www.mikeutley.org). He asks people for a minimum $250 donation yet turns no one away. He always has a surprise for this group, such as a past guest appearance by former Tour de France winner Greg LeMond.
"Mike Utley doesn't wait for a cure; Mike Utley lives for one," he said, referring to himself in the third person. "I will do what I have to do."
rest of article: http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/football/ ... ere29.html