This guest Q&A is from Mike Porath the founder and CEO of The Mighty. He got his start in journalism at ABC News, where he was the network’s first overseas digital reporter and was awarded the Society of Professional Journalist’s top honor for his reporting in Kosovo.
He has held a variety of writing, editing, producing and executive roles at media companies including ABC News, NBC News, The New York Times and AOL.
Mike is also on the board of directors and fundraising chair of The Dup15q Alliance, a non-profit organization that supports people with Dup15q syndrome like his daughter.
Kerry: Hey Mike! Can you tell us a bit about how the idea for The Mighty came about?
Mike: When my wife and I got my daughter’s diagnosis of Dup15q syndrome, a rare chromosome disorder that typically includes things like autism, epilepsy, anxiety, sensory disorders, cognitive delays and more, we were devastated. What helped us more than anything was talking to other parents who were facing the same thing we were. Hearing their stories was empowering. It gave us insight and perspective and has helped us in so many ways. The idea behind The Mighty was to provide a platform for people to share those experiences of whatever disability, disease or chronic health condition they were facing with others in the community. I leaned on my professional experience as both a journalist and community builder in digital media to get things started.
Whenever I go to The Mighty, I personally love the message on the top of the site that says “We believe in the power of stories, the strength of communities and the beauty of the human spirit.” Can you share what that message means to you?
I actually wrote those words down on a whiteboard long before the site launched. I did it to remind myself what this was all about. While a friend of mine was building the site, we talked about what to put front and center and ultimately I decided to put those words there because I wanted everyone to know what we were all about.
Do you have any personal favorite stories written so far on the site?
Kerry, one of your stories is among my favorites: The Letter I Would Have Written for My Parents When I Was Non-Verbal
— Kerry Magro (@Kerrymagro) May 29, 2015
I literally teared up at my desk when I read it. My daughter is verbal, but she doesn’t communicate in a conversational way like typical kids. Your story reminded me that I just need to keep talking to her, that when I sit down to read her a book at night, to just give her 100% of my attention and truly be with her. It changed my perspective on those 15 minutes each and every day. That is the power of storytelling! Another story that has always stuck with me is this one that we published the first week we launched titled The Short Bus Stops at My House
I was so impressed by this young woman, her perspective, and her relationship with her brother with Down syndrome. Immediately I thought about my two young boys. I want them to grow up and have a similar relationship with their sister who has special needs and empathy for others who have their own challenges.
What are some goals you have for your group in the future? You’ve certainly come a long way in the past year and change.
In our first 18 months, our stories have been read by 70,000,000 people. I’m so proud of our team – including almost 1,500 contributors like you – who have shared their stories with our community. Over time, we’d like to give our writers and readers more opportunities to connect and follow each other’s journeys. We’d also like to help others share their moments and tell their stories through video. Those are just a few of the things we think we can help grow The Mighty community.
Anything else you’d like to share with our readers?
I’d love to hear what you and your readers would like to see The Mighty do in the coming months and years. Our job is to continue building this into something that truly helps people. We would love to hear suggestions on how we can do this for them. They can reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.