A mom, a teacher, a baseball coach … those are just a few of the titles held by one of KX News’ Remarkable Woman semi-finalists, Michelle Bliven of Minot.
“She always thinks about everyone else but herself. She puts everyone else first,” Bliven’s daughter, Kristen said.
“She’s a pretty amazing person,” her brother, Taylor, agreed.
That’s how Michelle Bliven’s kids describe her, so how does she describe them?
Kristen, her oldest, made her a mom. Taylor, her youngest, is her ‘wild child.’
And her middle child, Aaron, has inspired the entire family in ways they didn’t know were possible, leading Michelle — a teacher of 35 years — to teach perhaps the most important lesson of her life.
“When someone has a disability, it’s making awareness — people are curious, they question,” said Bliven. “I want people to come up and ask questions because I want to share what it’s like to have a child with a disability and that even though he can’t talk, he’s very smart and friendly and loving.”
Among the many hats she wears, is her Dream Catchers hat.
She said with a shrug, “We just decided, why can’t kids with disabilities play baseball?”
Since 2003, the baseball league has found a way to let kids with disabilities play the great sport of baseball.
It had 13 players in its first year.
“I started Dream Catchers so that Aaron could play,” Bliven said. ‘It just so happens, there were many many other kids out there in the community that were the same way.”
Now, more than 70 players plus their buddies take to the diamond at Dream Catchers’ very own field, but the league has reached further than The Magic City.
In 2006, the Blivens’ home was completely remodeled, and made wheelchair accessible for Aaron, on the TV show Extreme Home Makeover.
Viewers all over the country were captivated by the Dream Catchers story they saw on the show, so they reached out to Michelle.
Now, leagues inspired by Minot’s very own are operating in Texas, Missouri, Washington D.C., and Bismarck.
And it doesn’t end there. A teacher by trade, Michelle recently transitioned out of the classroom and became a homebound teacher, visiting students who are out of school for various reasons.
She said, “My philosophy, first and foremost, is the students have to know that you are there for them.”
Last year, Lydia Repnow spent two months out of school and thanks to Mrs. Bliven, she didn’t miss a beat.
“What comes to mind when you think of Michelle, or Mrs. Bliven?”
“Compassion, kindness. Intelligence, too,” Repnow responded quickly.
Because it’s almost never about her, it’s about what she can do for others.
That’s a common theme for Michelle Bliven and it’s what makes her remarkable.