Surprise, Surprise! Coach Gives and Receives

Mike Beeson prepares for cycling practice in High Point.

Mike Beeson prepares for cycling practice in High Point.

The sport of cycling has suffered from more than just a loose chain in recent years. The fraudulent Lance Armstrong and the apparent rampant use of illegal performance- enhancing drugs by professional cyclists have left the sport with a black eye in the public’s perception.  But shine a light on cycling in North Carolina, specifically on the Special Olympics Guilford/High Point cycling program, and you’ll find everything that is right in the sport.   And much of the credit goes to one man; Special Olympics Guilford/High Point Cycling Coach, Mike Beeson.

Beeson, was taken by surprise on Nov. 9 at the 2013 Special Olympics NC Fall Tournament cycling venue when he was recognized as the 2013 recipient of the Special Olympics NC “Outstanding Coach” award.  Cyclists, coaches and families from across the state erupted in cheers as everyone involved in the sport knows of Beeson and his contributions.

“It was a big surprise,” said Beeson. “But I have a tremendous coaching staff and athletes that make me look good. But I also feel like I’ve earned this award a million times –every time I see an athlete’s smile, or get them to laugh with me, or call me crazy because of something I did.  The athletes are what it’s all about.”

Beeson is a cycling enthusiast, triathlete, former United States Cycling Federation Official, Special Olympics parent and Special Olympics coach for more than 20 years.  He’s increased the popularity of the sport by leaps and bounds both in his county and throughout the state.   His cycling team is consistently one of the largest in the state with 80 active riders.   He stresses safety and fun.  He has mentored many assistant coaches and helped numerous counties across the state get the sport off the ground in their communities.

The families of the athletes can’t say enough about the impact Coach Beeson has had on their family.

“We are so fortunate to have Mike coaching our two sons,” said Chris and Ida Shaw.  “They are always excited to go to practice.  They love his gentle ’ribbing’, his constant smile and his genuine words of encouragement.  He and his coaches truly go to great lengths to make sure everyone has a great experience.  Mike even takes the team on camping trips and hosts a Christmas party.”

“Our son Andy has had such a positive experience,” said cycling parent Fred Delafield. “He’s learned so much about bike safety and how to compete from Coach Beeson.  He really just goes above and beyond for the athletes and they know it.”

Beeson is very dedicated to Special Olympics athletes.  In addition to coaching the Guilford/High Point cycling team, he also assumed a Games Management Team leadership position and ran the state-level cycling event at the Special Olympics NC Fall Tournament for five years.  His ties to the local cycling community have produced many new volunteers and in-kind donors to Special Olympics as well.  

Mike Beeson and Toby Gordon.of Carolina Flyers Inc. present John Midgett of Brunswick County a brand new Trek cruiser at the 2013 SONC Fall Tournament.

Mike Beeson and Toby Gordon.of Carolina Flyers Inc. present John Midgett of Brunswick County a brand new Trek cruiser at the 2013 SONC Fall Tournament.

Beeson’s dedication has even spawned a non-profit that is dedicated to people with special needs.  In 2007, Mike, along with his wife and several Special Olympics Guilford/High Point assistant cycling coaches, created Carolina Flyers Inc. based on his inspiration.  Carolina Flyers is an organization that provides cycling equipment and programs to disabled riders.  Beeson is responsible for the day-to- day operations of the organization in addition to fundraising, grant writing and communicating the organization’s mission to the public.  Beeson is extremely dedicated to the goals of Carolina Flyers, Inc. and serves in the role of executive director with no compensation.  The organization has helped more than 50 individuals receive new equipment and training.  The newest recipient, John Midgett of Brunswick County, received a brand new Trek Pure S cruiser during the SONC Fall Tournament. Midgett’s coach called the Carolina Flyers for assistance when the 50-year old Midgett had asked his coach to repair his bicycle, his sole form of transportation.  The bike was covered in rust and duct taped together, had no handle grips, two flat tires and just one pedal.

“The old bike was in disrepair,” said Wes Juda, Special Olympics Brunswick County cycling coach.  “We are so thankful Mike Beeson and the Carolina Flyers could help. This new bike will change John’s way of life.”

For Beeson the state-level award is nice but having John Midgett reach out his hand to say thank you with a smile on his face is all the recognition this dedicated coach needs.

Congratulations to the 2013 Special Olympics NC  “Outstanding Coach” – Mike Beeson of Guilford/High Point!