Olympian Paul McMullen to Speak to Parents of Children with Dyslexia

Avondale School District Announces Olympic Runner, Paul McMullen, to Speak at Parenting Event

For parents of children considered different learners, it is sometimes difficult to connect with the right information or resources to help their child.  A group of Avondale School District parents are working to change that by offering parent education classes, speakers, and information nights targeting specific issues or circumstances that may preclude a child’s success in the classroom. The group, known as Avondale Special Parents, comes together to share concerns about their child’s special challenges; gather useful information; learn about local and national resources that may help them as they support their child’s growth; and mostly, connect with other parents for acceptance, advice and guidance. On December 7, the group welcomes Olympic runner, Paul McMullen as the featured speaker during their free information night about Dyslexia.

Paul McMullen at the 1996 Olympic Games 1500m Prelims

Paul McMullen at the 1996 Olympic Games 1500m Prelims

Dyslexia is the most common form of learning difficulty. Characterized by unexpected problems with reading in children and adults who otherwise possess the intelligence and motivation, the condition affects 40 million Americans. Paul McMullen is one of those. Growing up in Cadillac, Michigan, McMullen struggled with reading and test-taking as a result of his condition, moderate Dyslexia. At school his self-esteem plummeted as he was pulled out of class each day to work with a reading specialist. When reading aloud in class, he endured giggles and teasing from the other students. He eventually found solace on the track team where, he felt, if he could continuously improve his race times then his classmates would forget how long it took him to take tests.

Now an advocate for students with Dyslexia, McMullen gladly shares his victory over his disability and relates to young people that they are not alone and help is available. McMullen graduated from Eastern Michigan University in 1995 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Accounting. That same year he won the US Track and Field Championships in the 1500m and went on to finish 10th in World. In 1996, he won the Olympic Trials in the 1500m and finished 19th in the Atlanta Olympic Games.

After eight seasons as a professional athlete, he enlisted in the US Coast Guard where he set the 1.5 mile boot camp run record and served as a Rescue Swimmer and Boarding Officer for four years. Upon discharge, he accepted a sales job in the pharmaceutical industry and then surgical devices with Johnson and Johnson. McMullen considers himself a problem-solving entrepreneur and developed and sold an award winning smartphone app called TruthLocker to an anti-bullying organization in California. His app accurately stores messages from cyberbullies in a retrievable place making reporting and stopping vicious attacks possible.  He is now 44 years old and resides in Grand Haven, Michigan, with his wife, his high school sweetheart. He is currently a Life Safety Consultant for EPS Security in Grand Rapids. 

Hear Paul McMullen’s story at the Avondale Special Parents information night, “About Dyslexia”. In addition to Mr. McMullen, the Michigan Dyslexia Institute will also be on hand to provide information to parents of children with Dyslexia. The event is December 7 from  7:00 – 8:30 p.m. at Avondale Middle School (1445 W Auburn Road, Rochester Hills, 48309). No reservation is required, but if you would like to arrange babysitting at no cost please email annette.mcavoy@avondale.k12.mi.us.


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