I am the Founder of “Mike’s Place” , the Mother to Mike, Erin, Eric and Shawn. Mike’s Place” will support individuals facing Catastrophic Life Altering News. My goal to create a 501c3 Foundation called “Mike’s Place” was approved in 2017 by the IRS Mike’s Place is based on my own personal experiences. My philosophy is to “ask for help” when you hit that brick wall, “make every minute count”, “live life to the fullest”, and “share your gifts with others”.
I have devoted my life to helping individual’s reach their goals and dreams. In addition to my work as an advocate for children with life threatening conditions, I have trained individuals with dreams of being Business Owners. I developed a strong business knowledge base by creating a Non-Profit Foundation in the early 1980s called SKIP (Sick Kids Need Involved People). This experience gave me the opportunity for a Capitol Hill Fellowship where I was instrumental in the creation of the Infants and Toddlers Educational Program and the Medicaid Model Waiver for Children. I am the Owner of M-PALM (Meetings Plus A-Lot More), and I have been the Meeting Manager/Designer for America’s Small Business Development Center since 2001, affording me the opportunity to be an influencer in training new Entrepreneurs.
My roots grew from my father as my role model, Eric Christianson. My father demonstrated throughout his life that dreams, visions and goals are achievable through focus and hard work. Eric Christianson immigrated to the U.S. from Sweden in the 1920’s. He embraced the American Dream and saw the U.S.A. as the Land of Opportunities. In the 1930’s when faced with the challenge of a family member’s access to education, Eric created Michigan’s first transportation system for individuals with disabilities which continues today as the National Model. Eric supplied the “Missing Piece”, insuring that all individuals with disabilities had equal access to an education. Following in my father’s footsteps, I continue to devote myself to helping individuals achieve their goals and dreams and became an advocate to children with life threatening conditions identifying the Missing Pieces in the health car system. I discovered when faced with keeping my infant daughter alive, the challenges that exist when individuals are lacking knowledge and access to medical services and support. So I created a Non-Profit Foundation in the early 1980s call SKIP (Sick Kids need Involved People). This experience led me to a Capitol Hill Fellowship in Senator DeConcini’s Washington DC office where I provided testimony on the “Missing Pieces” in our health and education systems. My work during this period was instrumental in the creation of the Infants and Toddlers Educational Program and the Medicaid Model Waiver for Children. Then in 2009 my daughter suddenly dies of a pulmonary embolism. My, husband, George, that same year started searching for VA-Veteran support as he was a Vietnam Vet dealing with the Agent Orange exposure. Then I found myself facing another catastrophic event when I learned in the fall of 2011 from my son that he had stage four colon cancer. Yet again, I discovered more “Missing Pieces” relative to the medical care and resources profoundly needed by my son and others in his situation. Fate handed me yet another challenge when my other son, Eric, experienced a horrific fall in 2017 that could severely jeopardized his future. Then in 2020 we have the COVID-19 Pandemic. From my father’s work in the 1930’s that led to a transportation system for persons with disabilities, through my more than 25 years of professional and personal experiences, I continue to uncover “Missing Pieces” for those in need of critical services and support in our U.S. health care system.
So I created “Mike’s Place”, a 501(c)(3) foundation in honor of my children, and named for my son, Mike. “Mike’s Place” will serve individuals facing Catastrophic Life Altering situations by identifying those “Missing Pieces” and services through a national database. It will be searchable by key words, diagnosis, locations, and more. “Mike’s Place” will help to ease the burden and support the journey of individuals and families by connecting them to a HealthCare Concierge when finding themselves facing catastrophic medical situations. In short, “Mike’s Place” will provide a path to a new (better, more manageable) normal for their life and the lives of their families and love ones.
Through my foundation, the supporters of my philosophy and I will help make it possible for others to embrace the philosophy of living life to the fullest, making every minute count and sharing (paying forward) one’s gifts with others.
Mike’s Place is the result and continuation of Mike Shannon’s journey. He lived a true Disney adventure of excitement and opportunities, traveling the world as a sound engineer/designer and project manager. Mike lived and worked in Hong Kong, returning often to his U.S. Disney office in Glendale, California. Mike’s life ended in Pasadena, California on August 13, 2013, in a beautiful little bungalow offered up by his Disney Imagineer Colleagues. Mike had worked with them for over 20 years and continued to work right up until that day. Now his journey, and that of his siblings, continue with this effort in collaboration and sharing with others.
Karen Shannon’s roots grew from Eric Christianson— her father and role model. Eric Christianson demonstrated throughout his life that dreams, visions and goals were achievable through focused, hard work. Karen’s father immigrated to the U.S. from Sweden in the 1920’s. He embraced the American Dream and saw the U.S.A. as the Land of Opportunities. In the 1930’s when faced with the challenge of a family members access to education, Eric created Michigan’s first transportation system for individuals with disabilities which continues today. Eric supplied the “Missing Piece”, insuring that all individuals with disabilities had equal access to an education. Following in here father’s footsteps, Karen devotes herself to helping individuals achieve their goals and dreams.
Karen became an advocate for children with life threatening conditions by identifying the “Missing Pieces” in the health care system that left individuals lacking knowledge about and access to medical services and support. Karen discovered these challenges when she faced keeping her own infant daughter alive. Karen created a Non-Profit Foundation in the early 1980s called SKIP (Sick Kids need Involved People). This experience led Karen to a Capitol Hill Fellowship in Senator DeConcini’s Washington DC office where she provided testimony on the “Missing Pieces” in our health and educational systems.
Karen’s work during this period was instrumental in the creation of the Infants and Toddlers Educational Program and the Medicaid Model Waiver for Children. Karen then found herself facing another catastrophic event when she learned in the fall of 2011 from her son that he had stage four colon cancer. Yet again, Karen discovered more “Missing Pieces” relative to the medical care and resources profoundly needed by her son and others in his situation. Fate handed Karen another challenge when her other son experienced a horrific fall in 2017 that severely jeopardized his future.
From her father’s work in the 1930’s that led to a transportation system for persons with disabilities, through her more than 25 years of professional and personal experiences, Karen has and continues to uncover “Missing Pieces” for those in need of critical services and support in our U.S. health care world.
Karen is currently creating “Mike’s Place”, a 501(c)(3) foundation names for her son and her children.
Through her foundation, Karen and supporters of her philosophy will help make it possible for others to embrace her philosophy of living life to the fullest, making every minute count and sharing (paying forward) one’s gifts with others.
When he heard that word CANCER, he wanted that second opinion and came to California. Mike received treatment initially in Hong Kong and then in LA at USC, as he continued to travel back and forth to Hong Kong for his Disney Hong Kong on-site work and his wife Jennifer. Mike lived his life to the fullest, making sure each moment, each day counted. His story is about teaching as well as learning from one another and always paying it forward. It is about commitment, and at the end of that journey knowing it is a “Job Well Done.
THE TRACKS LESS TRAVELED
Mike’s Place is named after Mike’s conference room in Glendale, CA where Mike spent many long days in meetings…. Mike’s conference rooms at the Glendale Disney Campus continue to grow and spark new and creative ideas. …. Mike’s Place, the foundation, is that place of sharing, support and renewed energy through knowledge and sharing. A place of living, not just surviving.
It was March 18th, 2009 that Erin experiences a pulmonary embolism. She had just finished a shift at Mercy Medical Center as a Labor and Delivery RN. Erin was having difficulty breathing and the hospital ER staff wanted her to stay and be observed, but Erin shrugged it off by saying I have asthma, I know how to manage it and I am a nurse so I will be okay, However, 18 hours later she was gone at the age of 29. But her story didn’t start and end here, Erin’s story started when she was 3 months old, when her trachea collapsed and required a tracheostomy and a ventilator when she was sleeping until the age of 9 when her trachea grew and Erin learned to manage her airway. Erin’s educational experience in those early years were very unusual, having a nurse always by her side. Then she went to Middle School and said, “I can do this on my own” and that she did. At the time of her High School graduation Erin was asked to be on the stage to share a glimpse into her life, but also, Erin wanted to say Thank You to all those that were paramount in her survival and her accomplishments. This is her Thank You in front of her 500+ graduating classmates. “TIMES BRING CHANGES” Who would have thought that 17 years ago I would be standing here in front of my classmates, my teachers, invited guest and all my special friends and family. For some of us we say, how did I get her? Do we remember our Mom or Dad putting us on that bus the 1st day and off we went to kindergarten and everything became routine after that? But for some of us it may have been a miracle that got us her tonight. For me, I fall into that special miracle group. I’m not supposed to be standing in front of anyone. You see my childhood memories aren’t like your, filled with playgrounds, parties, and sleepovers with friends. Mine are filled with hospitals, doctors, nurses and most of all the fear of never seeing tomorrow. Over my 17 years, I have learned that we can’t make it in this life without supports. There are educational supports for learning, emotional support to maintain a balance in our life, moral supports to know what is right and what is wrong, and for those of us who may not be able to breath or walk on our own, we need medical supports. Tonight, I thank each one of you for being part of my miracle. Had it not been for your commitment to allow me every opportunity and experience under your watchful eye, I would not be alive today. I thank you and ask that you never lose sight of your importance in making a better tomorrow for all individuals with disabilities and special needs.” Erin’s story does not stop here as Erin gave us a beautiful young lady Ashleigh, that is following in her Mother’s footsteps in the medical community and is becoming a Paramedic, and who knows where this journey will take Ashleigh.