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My Spiritual Victory Over Crohn's Disease and Depression

One man's inspirational book about his battle with Crohn's disease and depression.

By: Mike Florak
Speaker/Author Former Head Baseball Coach
Waynesburg University and Youngstown State University

Mike Florak Receives the Great Comebacks Award

Mike Florak has been named the Central Region receipient of the Great Comebacks Award. The award is sponsored by the Crohns and Colitis Foundation of America and ConvaTec.

Mike was presented with the award on Monday, November 5, 2007 at 6pm at the Renaissance Hotel in Cleveland, Ohio. The award is given annually to a person who has overcome the difficulties of living with Inflammatory Bowel Disease (Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis), colorectal cancer and/or and ostomy whose story can encourage others.

Past winners and Great Comebacks Board Members include former NFL player Rolf Benirschke, former professional golfer Al Geiberger, actress Mary Ann Mobley, and former White House Aide Tony Snow. Mike and the three other regional award winners will be in Washington, D.C. for the announcement of the National Great Comebacks award winner.

For more information on the Great Comebacks Award, please visit www.greatcomebacks.com

The Mike Florak Book Fund was created by a group of Mike's friends to assist Mike in his effort to share his message and inspiration to others. Donations that are raised through this fund are used to help distribute Healthier Than Normal to health care professionals, schools, faith-based organizations and other venues to be an example for others faced with difficult challenges.

For additional information, or to make a contribution, contact:

The Mike Florak Book Fund
139 Brady Circle West
Steubenville, Oh 43952

or call: 1-888-435-6125

Eight surgeries. Four blood transfusions. Terrible bouts with depression. Eight flare-ups in eight years of what doctors called one of the worst cases of Crohn’s disease they had ever seen. It doesn’t sound like the resume of a championship-winning college baseball coach. Unless it is the resume of Mike Florak.

Healthier Than Normal is Florak’s graphic, inspirational autobiography which tells the story of how he overcame the aforementioned suffering to become one of only 290 NCAA Division I baseball coaches in the entire country.

“Fall seven times, rise eight.”

- Asian Proverb

Each time his Crohn’s disease flared up, Florak fought back harder. During four of the flare ups, he lost 40 pounds and gained it all back. In the other four flare ups, he lost 60 pounds and gained it all back. In Healthier Than Normal, the author writes about how medication, diet, exercise, meditation, and determination helped build him back up each time he was knocked down.

Despite the grit he displayed each time adversity arrived at his door, Florak feared what life would be like if he were forced to have his entire large intestine surgically removed. When the disease eventually raged out of control, his worst fears were realized. The surgery he thought would end his life actually gave it back to him. He wrote the book because he knows that as the head baseball coach at Youngstown State University, he has a platform to be a model for others who need inspiration to overcome sadness and despair.

Click here to view Article in USA Today about Mike Florak's book

Youngstown State head baseball coach and communications professor talks about his fight with Crohn's Disease and how he overcame it to become what he is today.

“Healthier Than Normal” is the classic story of a remarkable hero who recovers from a devastating battle with Crohn’s disease and depression. Mike is an example to us all of the human spirit shining through near impossible difficulties.”

- Ron Titlebaum, President, United Ostomy Association

In the midst all of the struggles he went through, Florak’s faith was strongly tested. He writes openly about how he prayed to get better to be able to avoid “the surgery.” Even though surgery eventually became his only option, the whole ordeal strengthened his faith in God. During his inspirational speeches, Mike is proud to talk about how his suffering has made him a better person and has given him confidence he otherwise would not have known.

“We glory in tribulation, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance, and perseverance, character, and character, hope.”

- Romans 5:3-4

Florak knew deep inside, even during his darkest, most depressed times, that something good would come from his suffering. He gained confidence that with God’s help, he could hurdle any obstacle placed before him. In just two short years after his final surgery, his team at Waynesburg College had the highest team batting average of any college team in the country, and then became the Presidents’ Athletic Conference champions. Mike was named conference coach of the year, and shortly after, became one of the country’s youngest Division I head coaches at the age of 31 when he was hired at Youngstown State in the fall of 1998.

Success did not come as quickly at Youngstown State. The first five years were a struggle. Finally, in 2004, Florak believed the team could compete for the league championship. But the team lost many close games early in the season, and limped to a last-place finish during the Horizon League’s regular season. Because of his faith and knowing that he had climbed higher mountains before, the coach knew better than to let his team give up. They pulled themselves together and rallied for a stunning championship run, winning the league tournament and making the first-ever NCAA tournament appearance in the school’s 50-year history.

“Mike Florak faced adversity with courage and a plan. God was, and is, at the center of Mike’s plan, and that truly is the reason for his good fortune. A courageous man, a caring teacher of young people, and a friend to many, Healthier Than Normal will impact all who read it.”

- Jim Tressel, Head Football Coach, The Ohio State University

Despite the fact that Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis are not often talked about, there are WELL OVER ONE MILLION people in the United States alone who suffer from these two diseases. In Healthier Than Normal, the author writes in detail about the drastic symptoms and the suffering he endured. Florak also unashamedly writes about how deep and desperately he endured bouts with depression. The author knows that others will benefit from reading his story.

“Healthier Than Normal is the inspirational and brutally honest real-life story of how one man has overcome the physical and mental struggles of a disease that no one wants to talk about. It is a ‘must read’ if you or anyone in your circle of family or friends has had the misfortune of dealing with Crohn’s disease or depression.”

-Mark Bercik, President, America Sports Publishing