By David Fong
TROY — Michael Ham set out to write a book.
It reads like a 162-page thank you note.
“Honestly, I wrote it as a thank you to (Troy High School history teacher) Scot Brewer,” Ham said. “I wanted to tell him, ‘Because of you, I can now do this.’ When I wrote my book, I really had two goals in mind. My first goal was to say thank you to ‘Brew’ and all the other people who also helped me along the way. My second hope was that it might do some good for teachers and young people, particularly young people who may be facing some challenges.
“I want those young people who the world might otherwise cast aside to know that you have gifts and you have talents. You may also have challenges, but they are outweighed by your gifts and talents. You just have to find the right people to believe in you and help nurture those talents.”
Ham was able to find those people in his life, starting with his late mother Patricia and continuing on through a group of Troy educators and friends, including Brewer, Gene Steinke, Mark Evilsizor, Brad Rohlfs and Chris Karnehm. They are the central figures in Ham’s debut book, “Beyond the Challenges: A Book of Life Lessons.” Ham will be hosting a book signing from 3-7 p.m. Friday in the Troy High School commons area. He will be selling signed copies of his book for $20, with the proceeds going to The Future Begins Today, a non-profit organization that helps students throughout the Troy City Schools district.
The title of the book accurately portrays Ham’s life story, as he has had to overcome a series of challenges since birth. Born with cerebral palsy, Ham’s father wanted him institutionalized. His mother refused. She would divorce her husband and move from Florida to Troy to be closer to family. She would devote her life to raising her son and making sure he had all of the same opportunities as children who did not have disabilities.
Along the way through the Troy educational system, Ham met all of the aforementioned mentors — themselves former teammates on the Troy football team and longtime friends — who would give Ham the added love and support he needed. He would go on to graduate from both Troy High School and Wright State University. He currently works for the city of Troy and is a member of the Troy City Schools Board of Education.
He also has become a much-sough-after public speaker, having won a number of awards for his public speaking. It was while at a public speaking event that someone suggested Ham write a book about his life experiences.
“I had been going with (Miami County Educational Service Center Supervisor) Tom Dunn to talk to students and educators for a number of years about the importance of education,” Ham said. “We were at Beavercreek in 2017 and after a 45-minute lecture about my experiences, one of the teachers came up to me and said, ‘Why don’t you write a book?’
“I was talking to Tom Dunn about it on the ride home about it and he said, ‘Why don’t you try it and see what happens?’ He thought I had a unique story and I should tell it.”
Ham did just that, weaving together an inspiring tale of friendship, understanding and triumph over adversity.
“I remember one thing my mother told me — mothers are always wiser than us — about talking to educators,” he said. “She said, ‘Don’t spend a lot of time talking about the importance of education.’ When I asked her why not, she said, ‘You’re preaching to the choir. They already know the importance of education — that’s why they do what they do.’ She told me to talk about the people. That’s what I started doing and that’s what I set out to do in this book.”
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