Retirement often marks a new and distinct chapter in one’s life, a time to explore uncharted territories and discover newfound purposes. In the heart of Alabama, one retired educator has exemplified this spirit, dedicating her post-career years to volunteering, supporting the special needs community, and championing the fight against breast cancer.
Meet Kathy Paiml, a retired educator and former school principal who, upon retiring, refused to simply sit idle. Her journey led her to Unless U, a remarkable school catering to special needs adults.
“I knew when I retired I didn’t want to just sit and do nothing,” shared Paiml, reflecting on her decision to stay actively engaged in her community. Her heart has always had a soft spot for the special needs community, a sentiment she was eager to embrace and channel into her post-retirement life.
Paiml’s initial involvement with Unless U began as a volunteer, dedicating her time and energy to support and uplift special needs adults. It was a deeply rewarding experience, and her dedication did not go unnoticed. After a semester of volunteering, Paiml was offered the opportunity to teach at Unless U, a role she accepted wholeheartedly.
“I’ve always had a heart for the special needs community,” she explained, revealing her profound passion for making a difference in the lives of these individuals.
In addition to her invaluable contributions to Unless U, Kathy Paiml has found yet another calling in her post-retirement chapter – raising awareness about breast cancer and generating funds to combat this relentless disease.
Kathy’s journey with breast cancer is a poignant one. Her cancer story began early, with her first mammogram at the age of 30. Fortunately, the cancer was caught in its nascent stages, ensuring an early diagnosis and a fighting chance for survival.
Paiml’s personal journey with breast cancer is intricately woven into her family history. Her mother, grandmother, and aunt all battled breast cancer, succumbing to the disease at ages 44 and 60. This familial connection to the disease fueled her desire to make a difference.
“I think that’s where I feel like my gift is talking and helping others, just a listening ear,” said Paiml. Her own experience with breast cancer, combined with her family’s history, has given her a unique perspective on the importance of early detection.
“I’m the poster child for early detection,” she proclaimed with humility. Her cancer was detected when it was only three-tenths of a centimeter, an incredibly small size. The specter of cancer’s return once haunted her thoughts, but her focus has since shifted to helping others and making a meaningful impact.
Paiml’s dedication to raising awareness about breast cancer took her to the “Pink up the Pace Run” for the Breast Cancer Research Foundation of Alabama on October 22, where she joined a community of individuals united in the fight against this disease.
Kathy Paiml’s story is a testament to the transformative power of purpose-driven retirement. Her commitment to both the special needs community and the battle against breast cancer is an inspiration, reminding us that our post-career years can be a time for even greater contribution and a legacy of positive change.