About JT Mestdagh

My Story

Hi! I’m JT Mestdagh, and I’m on a mission!

First, though…


I’m a motivator, an encourager, a fixer, a can-do kind of guy. (I’m also kind of a jokester — one of my nicknames is Jester!)

I believe faith and attitude are EVERYTHING!

I want to share my story so people who feel alone or discouraged might feel, well, less alone and more confident!

I am an extreme snow skier, a mountain climber, a boater, a hunter, a fisherman. I love cars and boats and photography and doing anything active.

And I LOVE being in nature — I feel closer to God there. It allows me to escape my challenges and lets me feel normal and happy!

Because looking at me you might not suspect there’s anything different about me physically. But I have something called VATER syndrome (it’s also known as VACTERL).

I almost died when I was born. By the age of three, I had spent more than 250 days in the hospital because of VATER. I will always have to deal with it. (More on that later).

Also, I’m a smart guy with a high IQ, but I have severe dyslexia (and it’s way worse than just the reversal of letters!) plus crappy processing and short-term memory.

In fact, the school psychologist said I would be ILLITERATE FOR LIFE!

But my family finally found a program (Tattum Reading – it was an answer to our prayers!) in fifth grade that helped me learn to read, write, and comprehend. That gave me the confidence to not give up!

I was able to not only graduate from high school but college too (Go, High Point University!) with a GPA over 3.2.

Now I’m writing a book about my life too. (Ironic, huh! An “illiterate” guy writing his memoir!)

Why? Because
* I want to tell kids with VATER or other life-threatening diseases to NEVER GIVE UP!
* I want to tell kids who have dyslexia or other learning differences to NEVER GIVE UP!
* And I want to tell the parents and families of these kids to NEVER GIVE UP!


My family is from Grosse Pointe Farms, Michigan. When I was born, I looked normal. Then doctors found out my trachea (breathing tube) and esophagus (feeding tube) were botched up. In fact, all my “plumbing” was botched, all the way to the bottom. I had no anus (yep!)

That was just the start of years and years of operations and treatments and hospital stays that have continued to this day. As a kid, I had to have surgery on my spinal cord, which had attached to the sacrum. (Not good!) It’s called tethered cord. SO painful! Then five years later the same thing happened again!

The count so far is 16 surgeries, and only God knows what fun and games are going to be next!

But my parents are rocks! And I have always been surrounded by positive, loving grandparents and family members, and our friends.

We also had the BEST surgeons and nurses. So blessed! I would not be here today if it wasn’t for them.

The same thing with my dyslexia. Stephan Tattum was an answer to the prayers I prayed every night: “Please, God, help me learn how to read!” If not for Steve and my teachers and tutors, I WOULD be illiterate for life!

It hasn’t been easy!
But in both the physical area and the reading area, I was determined to NEVER GIVE UP!
And I’m so glad I didn’t give up!

Things you might never guess about me …

I love ice climbing at night.
I got my 100-ton captain’s license at 21.
I give myself a daily enema through my belly button! (Long story!)
I love to travel.
I started skiing at 2.
I love reading boating magazines.
My statistics final exam took six hours but I did it!
I bungee-jumped over Victoria Falls when I was 15.
I started a nonprofit foundation.
I climbed Mount Kilimanjaro in September 2018!


I want to encourage you. That’s my mission!
I’ve gone through so much already in my life that I’m CONFIDENT that whatever you’re facing right now, YOU CAN OVERCOME IT!

After all, mountains are for climbing! And then you get to race down the other side!

Feel free to write me.

I’d love to pray for you!

Meet My Family
I LOVE being in nature — I feel closer to God there. It allows me to escape my challenges and lets me feel normal and happy!


Contact Me



100 Maple Park Blvd Suite #116
St. Clair Shores, MI 48081-2254