Mike the Viking says Summerfest helped save his life

Posted at 6:19 PM, Sep 02, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-02 19:19:54-04

MILWAUKEE — You can't miss Mike the Viking at Summerfest. From head to toe, he is in leather body armor. But why does he do it?

"Just any place I can go to be out there and make people smile," Mike Durst, also known as Mike the Viking, said.

People constantly stop him to take photos or talk to him. He has become somewhat of a Summerfest icon even though he has done it for only eight years.

"They’ll come back each year and say, 'oh well I got the picture from last year. Can I get another one this year?'”

However, there is a lot more to Mike the Viking that you can’t see.

“I’ve had it about six years, chronic lymphocytic leukemia.”

It's a type of blood cancer, and according to, it is the most common type of leukemia among adults.

To him, putting on the viking suit and going to Summerfest is his medicine.

“I use music and smiles from people as part of my treatment, and so far I’ve kept (the cancer) down to stage zero.”

His doctors say he doesn’t need extensive medical treatment yet. Mike believes it’s because of what he receives from the people at Summerfest and other festivals. Regardless, it helps him cope with the day to day struggles.

“Summerfest, the people here, and just the music itself, all of that has helped.”

There’s a good chance you’ll see him at Summerfest. He will be here 8 out of 9 days.

“I’m going to probably be out here for four or five hours today.”

So when you see him, say hi, or take a photo with him. It could mean a lot more than you think.

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