Michael Paul is a name that means a lot to many different people in this valley. I wish I could interview everyone and share their stories about a man who did so many great things for people in this valley, but I don’t have the platform nor enough time to do that. The stories would go on forever! Michael Paul was president of Valley-Wide for over 40 years.
He was always involved and working hard. He wasn’t just hiding in his office and impossible to reach; many people had his cell-phone number, and he would make sure to answer their calls regularly. He spent his free time as a referee for the organization; he also would coach teams in various sports usually.
If you ask him why he didn’t have kids, he will give you a look of confusion and respond with something along the lines of “what are you talking about? I have thousands of kids.” Even though it’s impossible for him to remember every single kid he has affected while working at Valley-Wide, he treats them all the same. Over the years, he has helped kids get jobs, encouraged them to focus on their school work, and invested time to help kids who didn’t have anyone else to help them.
I’ll share a personal story of mine and my experience with Michael Paul. I was in 8th grade and playing my last year of flag football against his team. The score was tied, and we were taking the field with an opportunity to score and win the game. My quarterback Threw an Interception to one of the best players on the opposite team, and I took off after him. Running as fast as I could, I caught up with him about 30-feet in front of the endzone.
I dove and grabbed the kids’ flag, but in the process, his cleat smacked against my face, one of my teeth were knocked out, and my nose was bloody. I was trying my best to hold in my tears, but I was not very successful at it. I started to walk off the field with my head down. Michael Paul ran over to me from his sideline put his arm around me and said, “that was a heck of a playing kid, I know you’re in pain, but don’t let anyone see that. That’s not what football is about. You walk off this field with your head held high. Don’t ever let your opponent see that you are in pain. When you get home, then you can cry, but while you are on the field, you act as tough as you possibly can.”
Those are words that have stayed with me throughout my football career, construction career, and something I instill in my kids/players I coach. That night Michael Paul made a difference in my life, and I’d be willing to bet he doesn’t even remember that because he has probably said something similar to many different boys.
Valley-Wide came together to honor him by renaming the Gymnasium after him, that doesn’t even begin to touch what the community owes a man who dedicated most of his life to helping raise their children, but it will do. Michael Paul was at the ceremony and thanked everyone who showed up. There was loud applause for him, and tears spread around the crowd. We hope that his predecessors to half as good of a job that he has because his presence is already deeply missed around the facilities.
Thank you, Michael Paul, for your dedication to our community!