Paul was seven years old when his mom, a single mother, was diagnosed with breast cancer. The youngest of four, Paul understood very little about what was going on, but his mom tried her best to prepare her children for what was to come. She arranged therapy for them and had support in place, but while Paul’s siblings were able to comprehend their mother’s battle, Paul found her death, when he was just 12 years old, a complete shock.

As his older siblings went off to school, Paul moved in with his father and step mom: “it was a lot of change in a small period of time.” Paul notes that he spent years dealing with the various emotions his mother’s death brought about, among them, self- pity and recognizes that it’s been a long road to where he is today at the age of 51: “I spent a lot of years trying to fill the void in different ways. It’s been quite a journey.”

In fact, he recognizes how many people he pushed away during such a difficult time. It’s why his advice to children facing the same hardship is to “stick close to your family. Don’t shut the door on what happened. Feel it, grieve it and just go through it. You need to feel the loss.” As an adult, Paul willingly admits that though it’s been many years since his loss, his mother’s death still feels fresh. His acceptance of grief has been born out of honoring his mother in any way he can. Getting involved in breast cancer organizations and raising money for the cause has given him the purpose necessary to move through his grief, all while honoring his mother. It’s why he is so excited to take to the Runway in October, not only because of Runway’s support of grieving children, but because “this type of thing would have been right up her ally.” He notes, “modeling isn’t my thing. It’s s scary proposition, I want to have fun with it and represent her in a fun/happy way. That’s where I am at with it now.”

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