Muskego High School freshman Michael Diaz has not let his limited vision slow him down. (Submitted photos)

When Michael Diaz was born premature at 25 weeks, the world didn’t know quite what he had in store. The now-14-year-old freshman at Muskego High School spent 115 days in the hospital after he was born.

For almost 100 of those days, he was on a respirator. Diaz had numerous surgeries, including several high-risk operations on his eyes.

As of today, he is 20/400 in his right eye and does not have vision in his left eye. He does most things with braille and uses a white cane for mobility.

But you wouldn’t really know any of this by looking at him. To say he’s persevered in spite of it all is an understatement.

A lover of music from an early age, he is involved with choir despite not being able to sight read the music. Michael loves cross-country and downhill skiing, as well as other activities like rock climbing and swimming. He is part of numerous organizations, including Blind Outdoor Leisure Development (BOLD) and enjoys birding by call.

And he plans to go on a mission trip to Memphis, Tennessee, with his church, St. Leonard in Muskego, in June.

“He just has this unstoppable, contagious spirit,” said his mom, Heidi Schludt. “He may not be able to see, but that has never stopped him from doing what he loves.”

Helping others is among that list, Michael said, as he is part of the Best Buddies program at school and can’t wait to get going on that mission trip this summer.

“I know the trip will be a good learning experience, but also I’m looking forward to building up my faith and getting to know people from other parts of the country,” Diaz said.

Faith and fellowship play a significant role in Diaz’s life, attributes Schludt said she thinks contribute to his upbeat, positive take on the world around him.

“I’ve always believed my mom when she said I should do whatever I want to do and not let anything stop me,” Diaz said. “I’ve been skiing since I was 5; (my sight) never stopped me.”

Schludt added they are grateful to have such a dedicated pediatric ophthalmologist who has been proactive with Michael’s case.

“My advice to kids like me is to try different things until you find something you love,” Diaz said. “I’ve never seen (the visual impairment) as a disability. Instead I’ve found ways to make the best of it and see it as something to conquer.