Mo Gerhardt – a medical miracle, basketball radio analyst, Spartan, proud uncle, and now, a memoirist.
Mo was born in Traverse City and at the age of eight he was diagnosed with Duchenne muscular dystrophy and was told by doctors he would be lucky to live beyond his teens. In the fall of 2006, at the age of 28, Mo’s diagnosis was changed to a rarer form of muscular dystrophy, Limb Girdle 2D.
Along with muscular dystrophy, he has experienced many physical obstacles in life including being in a bus accident, multiple bone fractures, osteoporosis and loss of vision in his right eye due to a Central Retinal Vein Occlusion.
Mo graduated from Michigan State University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in business administration and then completed a Master of Science degree in athletic administration. He currently works in the College of Natural Science at Michigan State University and is also employed through the Spartan Sports Network as the MSU Women’s Basketball radio analyst.
Perspective From An Electric Chair is Mo’s first published book. He is currently 35-years-old, single, the proud uncle of Kellen Matthew and later this year a new niece. He lives outside of East Lansing in Bath, MI.
How did you become a writer?
Being a writer honestly wasn’t something that I had dreamed about growing up. Throughout my life, people close to me had always encouraged me to put down on paper the various struggles and battles that I had overcome. At a young age it was tough to grasp how people older than me could learn or benefit from reading about my experiences. As I got a little older and matured more I was able to see it from a different perspective and luckily I had a great mentor to assist me through the whole writing process.
How do you write? What is your process?
Writing a memoir is a tricky proposition. The stories that impact you personally don’t always resonate with others and don’t always translate well onto pages. The best piece of advice I received was, try not to start from Chapter One and write straight through to The End. I selected what were obvious major telling points in my life and then filled in the gaps where needed. I also never shared my manuscript with anybody close to me until after it was completed. I didn’t want their versions or memories of stories to sway my recollections. That’s the beauty of writing a memoir, it’s totally your version of how your life has played out.
Who are your favorite authors?
As a child growing up I was fascinated by Roald Dahl’s stories, which is rather amazing considering the fantasy genre is generally not one of my favorites. He just had a magical way of making you feel as if you were actually experiencing the journey rather than just reading about it. Nowadays, I love a good legal thriller. I have every John Grisham book in my personal library. In general though, I prefer non-fiction works.
What authors have inspired you?
Had it not been for the personal encouragement I received from Mitch Albom, I doubt I would have completed my book. As a first-time author, the guidance he provided me was invaluable. I can only hope that my book can positively impact people the way that Tuesdays with Morrie did for me.
What books are on your bedside table?
My personal collection is loaded with autobiographies and biographies. I much prefer reading about people as opposed to events. I was never enthralled by history growing up, but I was fascinated by the people making history. If I could meet one person from any era it would probably be Franklin D. Roosevelt.
What writing projects do you have planned next?
While nothing is set at the moment, I would love to write more motivational material. My book has been an unbelievable platform for me to be able to talk to audiences of all ages. The feedback I have received has been very positive and it’s inspired me to want to increase the size and scope of my talks. I’ve spoken to groups of all ages from kindergarten students to senior citizens. One thing I’ve found is that no matter how young or old, everybody has hopes and dreams. Just like gardens, the more you take care and nourish them, the more they flourish and blossom.
What advice do you have for young writers?
As with anything, my advice is to never give up. There are always going to be obstacles in life. It’s just a matter of finding a way over, under, around or sometimes just plowing straight through! I live my life and close all of my talks by reminding people that it’s not the diagnosis that determines your outcome.
His latest book, Perspective From An Electric Chair, is available through Amazon.com and also through his website, mogerhardt.com, where signed copies can be requested. Social media has been an asset so please follow him on Twitter @mogerhardt and Like his Facebook page. He self-published the book, so it is available in both hard and softcover. His dream is for it to be picked up by a national publisher. It’s an extremely tough industry especially for a first-time author. He’s hoping that exposure through avenues such as this will catch somebody’s eye and lead to a big break.