PAUL’S STORY: Paul DeMichele was loving life. A scholarship recipient, he was preparing for his second semester at Eastern Illinois University. He was 19-years-old and on vacation with his family in Madison, Wisconsin when the accident happened. Paul fell water skiing, hit the left side of his neck on something, and suffered a blood clot that caused a massive stroke.
He was in a coma for three and half months when the doctors approached his parents about taking him off life support. They did not believe Paul would be able to walk or function like he should ever again. His parents, Don and Arlene, refused. They had faith in their son, so they brought him home.
It didn’t take long for Paul to wake up, go to rehab, and prove everyone wrong. Paul, now 52, enjoys fishing and hunting with his dad. His trophies included deer, elk, and even a bear. However, there are trophies smaller in size that mean more to Paul. You see, Paul loves to swim. He can do as many as 72 laps and has won awards at SIU for his accomplishments.
His dad says he was overjoyed to find out he would have a place closer to home to swim and exercise. “He would rather go swimming than eat, I think,” said Don. Now, you can find Paul at The HUB Recreation Center 6 days a week, swimming an average of 40 laps each day and exercising on the machines upstairs. Friday marks 33 years since his accident, and Paul is still loving life. His motto: Enjoy life, smile, and don’t give up. He says one day he’ll go to heaven and God will give him back his body but until then, he’ll just keep swimming.