The Student News Site of Northern Michigan University

The North Wind

The North Wind

The North Wind

Meet the Staff
Molly Birch
Molly Birch
Editor-In-Chief

My name is Molly, and I am in my second year at NMU. I come from Midland, MI, probably one of the most boring places on earth. However, we do have the only Tridge in the world, so that’s pretty nifty...

The North Wind Editorial Sessions
About us

The North Wind is an independent student publication serving the Northern Michigan University community. It is partially funded by the Student Activity Fee. The North Wind digital paper is published daily during the fall and winter semesters except on university holidays and during exam weeks. The North Wind Board of Directors is composed of representatives of the student body, faculty, administration and area media.

NMU CARES — President Brock Tessman shares his feelings on the universitys new CARE Team. Photo Courtesy of Northern Michigan University
Letter to the Editor — Our New CARE Team
Brock Tessman February 23, 2024

Oh Yeah NMU! Tim Harris presents inspirational speech

As audience members filed into the Great Lakes room on Monday, Feb. 25, motivational speaker Tim Harris was full of life, making his way through the aisles and stopping to chat with nearly everyone in the room.

Harris gave an energetic speech to about 140 members of the NMU and Marquette community, including many parents with special needs children. He told the story of his life with humor and a smile that kept the audience engaged throughout the speech.

“I’ve been speaking for like five years now,” Harris said after the show. “I love everybody. I love all people. It feels good to be doing this.”

Downs syndrome — a condition in which extra genetic material causes delays in the way a child develops both physically and mentally — has, according to Harris, not slowed him down in the least.

Story continues below advertisement

“A couple hours after I was born, the doctors told my parents that I had Downs syndrome,” Harris said in his speech. “A lot of people told my parents ‘I’m very, very sorry.’ I guess they just didn’t know how totally awesome I would be.”

The 27-year-old, who was diagnosed with Downs syndrome as an infant, is the only known person with the condition to own a restaurant.

Harris said he has had the dream to run a restaurant since he was 14. His dream came to fruition in 2010 when he opened up Tim’s Place, a family friendly restaurant that serves breakfast, lunch and hugs in Albuquerque, N.M.

“I’m a people person,” he said. “I’m the person at the front door (of the restaurant) giving the hugs and all that kind of stuff. My favorite part of the day is giving out free Tim hugs. They are on the menu!”

Indeed Tim’s place has served more than 32,000 hugs to date. The hugs are accounted for by the Hug Counter that is on the wall in the dining area of Tim’s Place.

In his speech, Harris said his three brothers — one of whom is working as a manager in his restaurant — never treated him as if he had a disability, and didn’t allow him to use his condition as an excuse. As he said in the speech, Harris began playing sports such as basketball, volleyball and track and field as a child in the Special Olympics when he was just 12 years old. He attributes this and his parent’s love and care to his success in life.

“I’m living the life of my dreams,” he said.

Harris said he graduated high school as Homecoming King, Captain of the Special Olympics’ basketball team and has accumulated dozens of Special Olympic. He went on to attend Eastern New Mexico University in Roswell, N.M., where he got certificates in food service and office skills while working at local restaurants such as CiCi’s Pizza and the Golden Corral, according to Harris’ website, www.timtheman.com.

After graduating college, Harris spent two winters sailing around the Bahamas with his parents. He now lives in his own apartment next door to his restaurant, remaining self-sufficient by doing his own laundry and even paying his own bills. Five years ago, he began speaking to universities, high schools and other public events as a way to share his success and develop hope for other individuals with Downs syndrome.

“I’m just trying to get the message out about my restaurant and my life,” he said. “I’m trying to spread to (others with Downs syndrome) that they should stay in school so that they can do great things.”

One attendee at the speech, special education elementary major Samm Grzeskowiak, thought that Harris’ speech was inspiring and relevant to her future.

“It’s fantastic to see what these kids are working for and what they can achieve,” she said before getting a Tim Harris poster signed, with plans to hang it in her classroom. “It’s awesome to see a child grow up to be exactly what we want all children with disabilities to grow up to be — entirely independent and successful with themselves.”

More to Discover