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LAURA SEITZ, Deseret News
Utah assistant attorney general Steve Mikita prepares for a hearing with his assistant, Tiffany Connell, at Matheson Courthouse on January 13, 2011.

SALT LAKE CITY — Steve Mikita has never taken a step in his life. He's never felt the weight of his body on his feet, never experienced the feeling of running. But that doesn't mean he's hasn't taken bigger strides than most people ever do. He's just done it all sitting down.

"I always knew that, yes, life would have its challenges and its inequalities," Mikita said Thursday. "But at the same time, it has a great deal of meaning and beauty and opportunities to serve and love."

Mikita has spinal muscular atrophy — a condition that has deteriorated his muscles. But as an assistant attorney general for Utah, a graduate of Duke University and BYU, it's rarely his disability that people remember — it's his passion and enthusiasm.

"I have been given certain talents and skills that others do not have, and it's one of my missions while I am still on this Earth to bring voice and protections and opportunities to individuals who a lot of society still ignores, neglects and marginalizes," he said.

Mikita tirelessly represents the state agencies that serve Utahns with disabilities — people who are exactly like him. What he lacks physically, he more than makes up for intellectually, a skill he says he learned from his loving parents.

"They instilled in me hope and faith, and resolve and a spirit of tenacity that no muscle could ever give me," he said. "I was given a sense that my life meant something to someone and that my life had a purpose. I needed to focus on that which I could do, and not feel sorry for myself for what I could not do."

Everyone has challenges — his are just more visible. He suggests focusing on abilities, rather than disabilities.

"Let's start reconstructing our lives and our future around what you do have, not what you've lost," he said.

Mikita was honored in 2007 with a lifetime achievement award, bestowed by the Utah Attorney General's Office. He authored a book now sold in Deseret Book titled, "I Sit All Amazed."

e-mail: jstagg@desnews.com