Steve Wilson Remembers Brevard Philanthropist and Humanitarian Valerie Paul Who Passed Away Oct. 1
By Steve Wilson // October 4, 2020
I will miss her caring ways. I will miss everything about my friend. I will miss Val.
BREVARD COUNTY, FLORIDA – October 1, 2020, is the day I lost my dear friend, Valerie Paul. Val passed away after an extended illness. Please do not think of me as arrogant when I call her my dear friend. She was not just MY friend. She was everyone’s friend.
I first met Val when she worked at the Rockledge Country Club. I had some business dealings with her from time to time, but I did not really know her that well. What caught my eye was how efficient she was, and how it was so important for her that things go as planned. She was a “detail” oriented person, and it showed.
In 2013, I met a teenaged girl that eventually brought myself and Val to be close friends. Julie Spurlock, a 13-year-old girl from Merritt Island, Florida, was battling cancer. After meeting Julie and her family, I quickly became friends with the Spurlock’s.
A group of us decided to hold a fundraiser for Julie, with proceeds going to the St. Baldrick’s Foundation. St. Baldrick’s is the largest private organization in the world that raises funds for pediatric cancer research.
It was to be an event complete with food, guest speakers, and music. When putting together our committee, I recall talking with Cocoa Beach City Manager Jim McKnight about our plans.
At the time, Jim held the same position with the City of Rockledge, and he was also my immediate supervisor. Jim said, you MUST have Valerie Paul on your committee. She is excellent in so many areas when it comes to event planning, and will do anything to help.
I contacted Val, and the rest, as they say, is history! She was my “go-to” person before, during, and after the fundraising event. For Val, it was not just an event to raise money for a good cause. It was an event to help someone in need. That is the Val I will remember. It was always about helping others.
Val was so vested in our committee, and efforts to help Julie, that she even volunteered to have her head shaved at the annual St. Baldrick’s Foundation’s “head shaving” event.
On that day, she was one of many that had their head shaved. But, for Val, it was personal; it was about Julie. I can still see that wide-eyed expression on her face as her beautiful hair was being cut away!
By 2015, our friend Julie Spurlock had defeated cancer. Unfortunately, that summer, the cancer had returned. I remember the day I called Val and told her Julie had relapsed. It was a difficult phone call because we were both crying.
Val came to my office that afternoon and we were talking about what we could do to help Julie. We knew we wanted to do something, we just didn’t know what. Val came up with an idea, that I still think about to this day. She said, what if we get people to send us video clips of support for Julie. Everyone sends get-well cards, but this would be different. An idea was born!
ABOVE VIDEO: When Steve Wilson heard that Julie Spurlock, a daughter of a friend, was facing cancer for the second time in her short life, he wanted to do something to lift her spirits. In an aha! moment, Wilson hatched the plan to ask friends and families to send video and audio clips showing their support of Julie.
Val was the first one to record a video clip for Julie. When all was said and done, we had received 341 videos. There were video clips from professional athletes, actors, musicians, politicians, and most any walk of life you can imagine. We even received clips from as far away as China! received a lot of credit for doing this, but, without Val, I do not know that I would have thought of this on my own.
Also, on the day Val visited my office, she decided that she wanted to, once again, shave her head in support of Julie. The only problem was, we were not close to the annual St. Baldrick’s head-shaving event. Val said, let’s go to my house and we can shave it on the front porch; all we need is a pair of shears. I told her, I have some shears, so she said, let’s do it! I went to my house, got my barber shears, and headed over to Val’s.
We set up on her front porch, I got out my camera, and her niece, Cameron Kaleiwahea, shaved her head! What a day that was! Those are the kind of things that made Val special.
Val received quite a few accolades over the years, and rightfully so. Her work with “Beautiful Bald Barbies” is amazing. She made bald Barbie dolls for children with cancer. Val would make them for individuals, like she did for Julie, or take a group of them to one of the pediatric hospitals in Orlando for distribution. She also shipped them to cancer patients all over the world! All of this at no charge. Once again, for Val, it was about helping the kids.
I was fortunate enough to see Val recognized on November 2, 2017, when she received the Central Florida Humanitarian Award. It was a night where multiple individuals were recognized, but none more deserving than Val.
The Central Florida Humanitarian Awards recognizes “outstanding individuals and organizations that dedicate their time, talent or treasure to help people in need locally or around the globe.” The description of this award fits Val perfectly.
Valerie Paul will be greatly missed. Of that, there is no doubt. I will miss the way she ALWAYS asked how she could help. I will miss her smile. I will miss her caring ways. I will miss everything about my friend.
I will miss Val.