HONOREE: Michael Somsan
NOMINATOR: Christina Bernardo
Nomination letter: First and foremost, Michael S. Somsan is a single dad, and lives his life as a role model and inspiration for his two daughters. Michael is coaching and training with his 14-year-old daughter in her own triathlete goals and to teach her to be a visually impaired guide, so one day, she will guide him in an Ironman race. The family motto is, "never give up and never be defeated!" and they live by those words every day.
Michael is also a retired First Lieutenant in the United States Army. He suffered a gun shot injury to the head in 1995 which caused him to go totally blind. After his honorable discharge from the military, Michael did not give up on his life and returned to school to earn a Masters in Public Administration and a Juris Doctorate in Law from the University of Arizona in 2002.
Today Michael is a practicing attorney and has held positions as a State and Federal Prosecutor as well as a Senior Litigator for local organizations such as Community Legal Services, commonly known as Legal Aid. Michael has been practicing law both in the public and private sectors and also serves as a part time Judge in our state. Michael also volunteers his time to assist people in the community through the Modest Means Legal Services program and assists our veterans through the Military Legal Assistance Project for the State Bar. Michael's legacy is about helping others. He serves on several community non-profit boards and is an inspirational and motivational speaker in the community. More recently, Michael was honored with the 2015 "Babe" Didrikson Zaharias Courage award from the United States Sports Academy for his continuing efforts to take on impossible challenges and make them possible.
Over the past two years, Michael shifted his priorities, with a greater focus towards his family and health. Michael is a para-Olympic cyclist and triathlete who competes in both local and national races. Michael has become a para-triathlete and in his first year of competing, in 2014, completed his first full Ironman in Arizona, and in 2015, completed his second full Ironman Arizona, coming in first place overall in the physically challenged division in that race (1 of 10 PC athletes who competed).
The new direction in Michael's life has introduced him to many amazing people and organizations who have supported him in his Ironman quest. This quest is not over since Michael has now set his sights on the Ironman World Championships in Kona, Hawaii on October 8, 2016. This Ironman race will be a special event for Michael. He is a local boy from Hawaii who had always dreamed of racing in Ironman in Kona. He went into the military to serve his country, became disabled in the line of duty, had those dreams take a big detour, and now he is finally coming home to fulfill that dream.