Man with CMD Died Doing What He Loved

Michael Wogan, who had congenital muscular dystrophy and was killed in a Reno air show accident, enjoyed travel, airplanes and adventure

The Wogan brothers in happier times. Front, from left: James, Michael and Billy. Back: Jonathan and mother Anne.
by Miriam Davidson on September 21, 2011 - 9:00am

Michael Wogan had been looking forward to the trip to the National Championship Air Races in Reno, Nev.

According to his younger brother James, “Michael liked to get out and travel, and he was so excited about getting on a plane.”

Michael’s older brother Billy, 26 — who, like Michael, 22, and James, 19, has congenital muscular dystrophy (CMD) — was supposed to attend the show with their dad. When he couldn’t, Michael went instead.

He promised to tell his brothers all about it.

Michael was among 11 people killed when a vintage plane crashed Sept. 16 into the wheelchair-accessible area of the grandstand where he and his father were seated.

 Michael Wogan on his prom night in 2007.

Michael’s father, William Wogan, 56, was seriously injured, and remains in a Reno-area hospital. He lost his right eye and several fingers on his right hand and suffered more than 100 facial fractures, according to a story in The Arizona Republic. The family lives in Scottsdale, Ariz.

Entrepreneurial and generous

Michael and two of his three brothers were born with CMD, a genetic disease that causes severe muscle weakness and atrophy.

Michael was the third child and the second with CMD; brother Jonny, 25, is unaffected. Like his two brothers, Michael used a power chair for mobility. In 1994, he and Billy attended MDA summer camp in Arizona.

In 1991, the Make-a-Wish Foundation sponsored oldest brother Billy’s request for a larger bedroom to share with his brothers. It featured an airplane theme, and the foundation provided an autographed helmet from the Blue Angels and flight suits from Luke Air Force Base, located near Phoenix.

Of the three siblings with CMD, Michael was considered “the serious one.” While still in high school, he founded a website hosting company — now called Yes! Hosting — which he ran from home while completing a degree in finance at Arizona State University.

Michael graduated from ASU magna cum laude last May. In addition to running Yes! Hosting, he was in the process of starting a social media marketing company.

“He was very entrepreneurial from an early age,” said family spokeswoman Tara La Bouff. 

Michael also was a longtime board member of Arizona Helping Hands, an organization serving underprivileged families.

“He was really generous and ready to help people,” James said in a statement. “If he saw a need, he would fill it and didn’t think twice about it.”

Motivated to be independent

Michael had a can-do attitude, his family said, that helped him in his business and in life. He wrote letters to various organizations requesting things he and his brothers needed, and he recently had purchased some Arizona Diamondbacks baseball playoff tickets for himself, his brothers and their 24-hour caregivers.

He dreamed of owning his own condo where he and his brothers could hang out and play video games.

His motto, his family said, was, “The only disability in life is a bad attitude.”

Michael’s mother, Anne, said in a statement, “We celebrate Michael’s life and, although we will miss him dearly, we have such peace and joy knowing that he is not suffering and now walks side-by-side with God.”

For more on Michael Wogan and his family, see Phoenix man killed at Reno air show; leaves 3 brothers behind in the Sept. 17, 2011, Arizona Republic.

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