Competitive spirit drives woman to win 100 medals
August 28, 2009
By DEANNA ROSE
!!! Marika !!!
Sometimes, it's easy to complain and offer excuses for not doing something: suffering from a headache, it's too far, it's too hot out or it's too cold out. Marika Vorosmarty Blumerick could complain, too - since she's deaf - but she isn't letting that or anything else stop her.
At 65 years old, Blumerick achieved a self-imposed goal of winning 100 medals for her participation in various sporting activities. The Shelby Township resident overcame adversity and kept trudging along, doing what she loved to do, despite living nearly all of her life without being able to hear.
"My mother never looked at me as a poor deaf child," Blumerick said through the help of her friend, Terri Closs, who translated what Blumerick said in sign language. "That was very inspirational to me."
In 1945, when Blumerick was 11 months old, her family tried to escape from the unrest in their home country of Hungary. Blumerick's father had been an advisor to the prime minister, but Hungary was losing the war and the family left.
A bomb exploded on a nearby bridge while the family was traveling on a ferry. The explosion deafened little Blumerick, and she began running a very high fever and became "shell-shocked." Doctors were able to eventually cure the "shell-shocked" ailment in Blumerick's head, but her hearing was gone.
Eventually, Blumerick's family moved to Flint when their church located a family in Michigan who wanted to help. She went to a school for the deaf and learned sign language, and then discovered how much she enjoyed all kinds of sports.
"Anything I could sign up for, I did," Blumerick said.
That including fencing - and an early love for Zorro - and anything that offered her a challenge.
"It didn't matter if I lost," Blumerick said. "It was the fun of playing."
However, some people didn't share the same thoughts about losing. One time, Blumerick said, she was playing in a fencing tournament at Michigan State University where she was the only female in the competition - and she won. One player, a male, didn't take to kindly to losing and angrily approached Blumerick.
"He hit me right in the chest with (the fencing weapon)," Blumerick said. "That scared me beyond belief. I almost quit sports."
But she didn't. She fought to participate and quieted objections by men who said she wasn't qualified, and she did so because of the traits her mother and father had instilled in her while she was growing up.
"You can do anything you decide you want; you have to fight for your rights," Blumerick said her parents always told her.
Communication was difficult for Blumerick in life and in sports. When she was younger, Blumerick said she was competing in a race where the starting signal was a gunshot - but she couldn't hear the gunshot and wondered how everyone else knew to begin.
At the Michigan School for the Deaf, Blumerick won various sports awards. She also won medals in the Deaf Olympics, an international competition, and in the Oakland County Senior Games. In 1997, Blumerick won her first Senior Olympics medal.
About five years ago, Blumerick decided to set a goal for herself to win 100 medals - and she promised her mother and father she'd do it, since they were her biggest inspirations in her life.
"To be honest, I never really thought that was possible as I'm not a spring chicken anymore," Blumerick said.
This year she did it. She medaled in shot put, javelin, discus, 5K cycling, women's doubles pickleball, women's singles pickleball and 100-meter dash, putting her over the 100-medal mark.
The journey to her goal and her journey through life both followed the same motivations to never give up and never let anyone stop her.
"If it required work, I'd work," Blumerick said. "If it required failure, I'd do that too."
When she's not participating in sports, Blumerick spends her time as an American Sign Language instructor at Macomb Community College. She has a husband, Gary Blumerick, and three children and three grandchildren. In addition, Blumerick is a board member of Deaf Community Advocacy Network and the Deaf Women's Advocacy Services, a Relay for Life volunteer and an advisor for the ASL club at MCC.
In the past, Blumerick spent more than 20 years as the first certified deaf substance abuse counselor in Michigan, and served on the Michigan Board of Mental Health and the Division of Deafness.
Blumerick wanted to remind her friends and the community to find activities that bring happiness, and to challenge themselves to become better people.
"I am so happy that the little child inside me still has that flame which burns with a competitive edge - it keeps my soul young and happy," Blumerick said.
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