We don’t always write stories when Average Joes buy Chevrolet Corvettes, but Mike Schickerowski from Benalto, Alberta, isn’t average, so we’ll make an exception.
Schickerowski was born with nystagmus, a condition that, according to the American Optometric Association, causes the eyes to make repetitive, uncontrolled movements, which had rendered Schickerowski legally blind since birth. “It basically involves involuntary movement of your eyes,” he told Global News. “If you’ve ever taken a photo with your camera and moved it slightly or the object moved and it’s a blur, it’s the exact same. My brain would never interpret the image as a steady picture—it was always a blur.”
A couple of years ago, however, Schickerowski signed up for an experimental surgery that would supposedly restore his vision and, as you might’ve already surmised, it was successful. (For any Canadians tempted to hop on their healthcare high horse right now, the procedure was done in California.)
Like a baby hearing its mother’s voice via hearing aid for the first time and subsequently attending a rock concert, Schickerowski got his driver’s license at the age of 44 (passing the test on his first try, no less) and bought himself a bright yellow C7 Chevrolet Corvette Grand Sport, as he puts it, “sight unseen.” The Grand Sport pairs the body, suspension, and aero parts from the Z06 with the naturally aspirated LT1 from the regular Stingray, and it’s rightfully considered the sweet spot of the C7 Corvette lineup.
“Some people said, ‘Oh, it’s Alberta, you need a truck,’ and sure I like trucks—they’re nice—but everybody’s got a truck,” Schickerowski said. As a fellow Canadian, I can attest to not everybody in Alberta having a 460-horsepower Corvette. Schickerowski says the car attracts quite a bit of attention when he’s out and about but it’s all part of the fun.
We got in touch with Schickerowski who sent us pictures of his pride and joy—which now features Lamborghini-style vertical doors that he and a buddy installed themselves—and told us a little more about why he chose the ‘Vette.
“After getting my learner’s license in April 2019, I had really only driven one vehicle, my wife’s Yukon, before purchasing the ‘Vette later in August,” Schickerowski told The Drive. Upon driving the Grand Sport for the first time, “the acceleration and power blew me away and I knew that it deserved respect…I bought it because I loved the look but quickly realized how amazing the steering, braking, and suspension were. I realized then that she was so much more than just good looks.”
Schickerowski says he tore the car apart while it was in storage over the winter and made a couple of dozen changes to it, big and small. “I absolutely loved the look of vertical doors so I installed them with an extra pair hands,” he said. Apparently, not everyone is a fan of Schickerowski’s mods but it doesn’t sound like that bothers him all that much. “Most guys I show that tear-down picture to start to cringe and tell me they can’t imagine doing that to this car, and what makes it more unique is that I’ve never done it before. Made some small mistakes along the way, but wouldn’t change anything, I couldn’t be prouder.”
Oh, and finally getting to see his wife and kids properly for the first time was cool too, we’re sure.
“It was beautiful to see, but it was more the realization of what I missed my whole life,” Schickerowski told Global. “It was [an] emotional breakdown. My mom was bawling and my wife was ecstatic. It was never supposed to happen. There was a sad moment of how much history had gone by and how much I had suffered, but [I was] still excited for the future.”
“It’s just a sense of freedom and the ability to be able to go out and do what I need to do now. I took my son fishing last week. I was never able to do that before on my own. I took my daughter for ice cream. It’s unbelievable. I’ve lived a wonderful life and enjoyed every moment. This is just the awakening to possibilities of the future and the opportunities that are there,” he added.
When we asked him what he thought about Chevy’s mid-engined C8 Corvette, he replied, “I’m a fan of the looks and mid-engine concept, but I’m still working to get this C7 the way I want her and don’t plan to change anytime soon.”
May his future be filled with more fishing trips, ice cream, and yellow V8 sports cars.