Cam Louder and Anders Michelson when they were very young buddies
Two old friends find strength to achieve life’s dreams
through each other and their disabilities
Loveland and Milford, Ohio – It all began 15 years ago in Mitchell Farm’s subdivision on a small cul-de-sac street with 20 kids. Directly across the street were seven more children. Altogether there were 27 kids running around the neighborhood every single day going house to house. It was a magical time and what formed were friendships beyond your imagination. Especially for two young men named Anders Michelson and Cam Louder. The age gap didn’t make much of a difference. They were glued at the hips from the beginning. They found each other humorous, but the real attraction was soccer.
What Cam and Anders didn’t understand during early childhood was that both would be significantly impacted playing sports because of their disabilities. Cam was born with cerebral palsy and as he aged his disability became progressively more difficult. At the age of 9, Anders was diagnosed with Type 1 Juvenile Diabetes. Cam recalls being very alarmed by the ambulances at Ander’s house when he would go into diabetic shock and the possibility of dying. On the other hand, Anders has agonized over Cam’s 17 surgeries and has been with him every step of the way throughout his journey.
“Anders and his family have always been a blessing in our lives and Anders and Cam have been a blessing to each other,” said Karen Louder, Cam’s Mother. Anders would steal Cam most evenings and take him to all the Milford soccer games. Karen remembers Anders coming to most of Cam’s Top Soccer games. He rolled him everywhere in his walker in order for Cam to make goals. “I was simply amazed by Ander’s energy and dedication to soccer. He was struggling with Diabetes and he still didn’t give up on himself or Cam” Anders has been an avid soccer player since the age of 3. Anders always dreamed of being a professional soccer player, unfortunately, his diabetes drastically interfered with his lifelong goal.
“Anders has been there for me every step of the way through my journey and I’m always going to be there for him,” said Cam Louder. “Anders and I push each to do the best we can and we feed off each other’s challenges.”
Persevering Through His Disability
Disabilities have a way of affecting a person’s development, confidence, and attitude at different times of their lives. At the onset of Ander’s disease, he weighed only 60 pounds. In one week due to high blood sugar levels and ketones, he lost over 25% of his body weight and dropped to a frail 42 pounds at the age of 9. High blood sugar had a direct impact on Ander’s energy level and physical capabilities and playing on the Milford A team was difficult. Unfortunately, the following season he was cut, but that did not stop him from chasing his dream. He continued to play a year up in age on the B team for 3 years and worked even harder. At the age of 13, he moved back up to the Milford A team. Although small in stature Anders had incredible speed and over the next few years he worked on his technical skills for dribbling and finishing the ball. He became a better soccer player, but size was still a roadblock as he was approaching high school. His teammates were growing at a much faster rate. Most kids were weighing 150 lbs and 5.6 feet tall on average. Anders was under 5 feet tall and weighed under 100 pounds. He couldn’t even lift the bench bar as a freshman in high school which was only 45 pounds. Anders had no alternative, but to play on the Milford JV team for 2 years. However, in his junior year of high school, he made it to Milford’s Varsity Soccer Team. His entire high school career was dedicated to working hard in soccer and academics.
Anders achieved 1st Team All-City and was awarded MVP of the 1st team All-City Game, Eagle Award, District Champions 2008 and 2011 and 2nd in Conference in 2009 and 2010
While playing with the Milford Soccer team he achieved 1st Team All-City and was awarded MVP of the 1st team All-City Game, Eagle Award, District Champions 2008 and 2011 and 2nd in Conference in 2009 and 2010. Anders was contacted by several colleges while playing Varsity, but he didn’t have the full confidence to go for his soccer dreams. His disease was still in the forefront and he wondered about the longevity of an athletic career and how diabetes was currently affecting his ability, weight, and size.
In college, he started playing pick up soccer and noticed his abilities increased. He actually grew more into his body than ever expected and this is when his regret of choosing not to play soccer sank in.
Over the years, Anders gained encouragement from his older brother Peter and he was able to consistently work out and gain muscle mass while attending Miami University. In college, he started playing pick up soccer and noticed his abilities increased. He actually grew more into his body than ever expected and this is when his regret of choosing not to play soccer sank in. Yet, his disease still had a grip on him and his diabetes was actually spinning out of control. His Doctor gave him the bad news of sustaining over time an A1C of over 10 (measure of average blood glucose over the past two to three months) which meant Ander’s diabetes was poorly controlled and will eventually lead to major complications, such as heart attack, stroke, blindness or eye damage, foot infections or amputation, or kidney damage possibly leading to chronic dialysis or even sudden death. Doctors warned him if he didn’t control his diabetes that his life expectancy wasn’t predicted to go beyond 10 years.
He’d wake in the middle of the night thinking about his fate of dying young and not playing soccer. That’s when his epiphany began.
After college Anders worked as a finance broker and continued battling the terrible progression of diabetes. After receiving the news about his A1C tests he had constant nightmares. He’d wake in the middle of the night thinking about his fate of dying young and not playing soccer. That’s when his epiphany began.
Soccer was the answer
With the full support of his family, Anders quit his job and began conditioning his body. Part of his conditioning plan was enrolling at Cincinnati State and playing college soccer. For the last year, he has been committed to grueling workouts which include a weekly routine of running 18 miles a week, 30 miles of bike resistance training, 6 hours of weights, 2 hours of abdominal work and 12 hours a week of soccer practice and games.
Anders and I push each to do the best we can and we feed off each other’s challenges.
He also trains and works out with his old buddy, Cam 6 hours a week at Five Seasons Sports Club. Anders goal is to increase Cam’s upper body strength for independence and to get Cam strong enough to walk with a Kaye Walker and out of his wheelchair. Cam said, “Anders and I push each to do the best we can and we feed off each other’s challenges.”
As if this wasn’t physically demanding enough, Anders also has a physical job working for his family business, AquaMarine Pools and Spas part-time.
Looking back when entering college Anders was 5’10 145 lbs, now he comfortably sits at 6’1’’ 176 lbs. Doctors told Anders that if he could obtain A1C below a 7 his energy levels would triple. He thought it was impossible. Today Anders has achieved an A1C of 7.2 and feels the positive effects physically and mentally.
My goal is to prove that your disability is not an inhibitor, it can be a motivator, differentiator.
Perseverance has a way of paying off and now Anders will face one of his biggest challenges thus far; he has applied to the United Soccer League and is awaiting an invitation to try out for FC Cincinnati. He is refusing to allow diabetes to define him and is determined to chase down his lifelong dream of playing competitive soccer. Anders wants to become a role model for all people with disabilities. He said, “My goal is to prove that your disability is not an inhibitor, it can be a motivator, differentiator and improve your stamina and mental strength. I am beyond pumped up to prove my ability to FC Cincinnati.”
Wishing him luck, Cam added, “I’m thankful for Ander’s lifetime friendship.”