Matt Glowacki
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Matt Glowacki

Sun Prairie, Wisconsin, United States

Sun Prairie, Wisconsin, United States
Band Comedy

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Music

The best kept secret in music

Press


"An Extraordinary Normal Guy"

Matt Glowacki doesn't want to be called inspirational. <

Or motivational. <

Or disabled. <

He'd rather just be called "Matt." <

Born without legs, the 31-year-old Sun Prairie man has spent the last five years building a career as a professional speaker, while competing with the USA Paralympic Team in sit-volleyball. <

In his spare time, he climbs rocks, plays basketball, kayaks, hang glides, water-skis, skis downhill and plays tennis. He just returned from sit-volleyball tournaments in Holland and Bosnia. <

"The things I do are normal," Glowacki says. "I'm just a guy trying to do all the normal guy stuff." <

And Glowacki wants others to know that he's normal, too. In his hour-long presentations to children and adults across the county, Glowacki tries to get across the message that just because a person has a disability, they're not that different. <

"Don't make me out to be an inspiration," he says. <

But it's hard not to be inspired. <

Glowacki puts on a fast-paced, high-energy presentation, with a lot of comedy, sports and a few life lessons. He stresses setting high, but realistic, expectations. <

And he's not shy. "Ask me anything," Glowacki told a crowd of high school students gathered earlier this month at UW-Whitewater. "Do you want to know how I go to the bathroom?" <

Glowacki explains that he sits on the toilet. When the audience is made up of young kids, he makes sure to explain that he's big enough so he doesn't fall in. <

He tells the audience, with a smile, "I was just born without legs. Everything else is there and works just fine." <

Glowacki gives about 200 presentations a year, including corporate events for adults. He earns enough to make a living, he said, having just bought a condo in Sun Prairie. He drives around in a custom-built car with hand controls. <

Glowacki also designs and distributes custom wheelchairs, which cost more than $3,000. They're tailored to elite athletes, like himself. <

Like having shoes for different occasions, Glowacki has seven wheelchairs. An all-black one is for dressier events. He has a more rugged one for tough terrain. <

Crafted out of bike parts, his "everyday" chair weighs 16 pounds and has no backrest. The front has two inline skating wheels. Glowacki can move the chair just by leaning or moving his upper body. <

It's his upper-body strength that allows him to do so many of the sports he loves, Glowacki said. He said he's not a gym rat (in fact, he was a self-proclaimed "choir geek" at Janesville Craig High School). But, at 184 pounds, he can bench press 350 pounds. That upper-body strength is needed for sit-volleyball, where players lift themselves off the ground with their hands to quickly move to set or spike the ball. <

Growing up in Janesville, Glowacki didn't play sports. But while getting his communications degree at UW-Whitewater, Glowacki got involved in wheelchair basketball and then created a statewide program to get kids involved in wheelchair sports. <

His parents, Mike and Connie Glowacki, both former teachers, were responsible for socializing him as they would a boy with legs, he said. In kindergarten, he scooted around independently on a skateboard. <

In fact, he didn't feel inhibited by his disability until he tried to wear prosthetic legs. <

The fake legs just couldn't keep up with him. <

"He so far exceeds people's expectations, and he does it in a joyful way, with happiness," said his mother, Connie Glowacki. "God gave him a fabulous sense of balance and a way with people." <

Even when he's not doing his official presentations, Glowacki is always educating. <

He calls it "five minutes of Matt." <

"You can get out there and change people's attitudes," he said. <

He'll make quick eye contact and give a friendly smile, or wave, to someone open-jaw staring at him. Glowacki can laugh off the 12th person of the day who jokes about him getting a speeding ticket for going so fast in his wheelchair. <

If someone is using one of the larger bathroom stalls, which he needs for the handrails, Glowacki will park his wheel near the door and make a noise - a sort of urgent sigh. <

The person usually exits, embarrassed, and apologizes. Glowacki prefers if they don't try to shake his hand before going to the sink to wash up. <

"I try to make them think about what they're doing," Glowacki said. "It's a teaching situation." <

For more information on Glowacki's presentations, visit his Internet site at: www.MattGlowacki.com.
- Wisconsin State Journal


Discography

Still working on that hot first release.

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Bio

After sharing his messages with over half a million people and two presidents; playing volleyball for Team USA at the 2000 Paralympic Games in Australia and all over the world, the next thing Matt Glowacki wants to do is bring the Diversability Challenge to your campus. Aren’t you tired of the same old “Pass the Egg” or “The Three Legged Race” games students play for Homecoming Week or Greek Competition? The goal of the program is to provide new insights into Diversity, bring people together in a fun way where they can build new relationships and strengthen existing ones, and have a great time in a productive manner in which they will remember.