In May, 2000 we received the heart wrenching news that Mike Paul died on April 18th He is survived by his wife Joan and daughter Vicki.  I first met Mike via the Internet in August 1998.  He was most instrumental in forming the ARDS Support Center. 
 
Mike was a graduate of the US Naval Academy, a former Naval Aviator who had served tours of duty flying in Vietnam and Cambodia, and a founder and officer of a major public (NASDAQ) computer company.  In 1997, while working and living in Paris, he was diagnosed with lung cancer.  Returning to the US for a critical lung operation, he then contracted ARDS and survived a 31 day fight for his life.  He was disabled with only 30% of lung capacity as a result of ARDS.  Rather than retreat into his disability, he instead chose to work at maximizing his physical condition.  During this period, he realized there must be more people trying their best to recover from this mysterious condition. 
 
In the process of rehabilitation Mike decided to put his efforts into helping others less fortunate, a task he had long dreamed of during his business and military careers.  In addition to helping form the ARDS Support Group, Mike was instrumental in the funding and organization of a hospital affiliated hospice, a substance abuse recovery center for young women, and a college tuition fund for economically deprived youth.  He personally stayed involved in each of these projects as well as spending time with ARDS victims and their loved ones.
 
In 1998 Mike suffered a recurrence of lung cancer and had to withdraw from offering his special brand of hope to others whose lives had been visited by ARDS.  He underwent chemotherapy and progress had been made.  Mike was caught in a sandstorm in Palm Springs in April 2000.  Being oxygen dependent he could not get his breath and was not able to recover.
 
I had the great privilege of calling Mike Paul a friend.  He was so much more than a friend to me.  He was the rock upon which ARDS Support was built.  In the early days of this effort I was becoming discouraged from the lack of interest by the medical profession.  Mike told me, "We must show them what we can do".  Together, Mike, my brother John and myself pounded out the first issue of the ARDS Support Newsletter.  The rest is history.  We have since been joined by some of the finest ARDS doctors/researchers in this country. 
 
I spoke with Mike several times on the phone.  No matter how serious his condition was he could always bring one to laughter.  He told me that he knew the cancer would get him one day but meanwhile he was going to live life to it's fullest.  We talked about how there was a certain peace with knowing what one would die of.  It gave Mike time to put his house in order.  But he did not stop living.  He and his wife were building a new home in California.  They hoped to have several years of happiness there.  He embraced each day and lived it to its fullest. 
 
Mike Paul left his mark on this earth with his desire to help others.  He accomplished this Post ARDS.  Courage, strength, stamina and grace are qualities that Mike possessed in great abundance.  His love of life and humankind was tremendous.  There is a void in my heart that will never be filled.  Mike was the most special of people.  Rest in peace, Mike.  Someday you and I will meet and our meeting will hold only joy and peace.
 
Sue Peterson