Michael has had some challenges lately but is staying stalwart and standing tall. I offer my very strong prayers for his continued recovery.
I keep hearing people say the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. Well, there must be another name for the aforementioned syndrome because I keep trying to move my hands and feet every day expecting different results and I call it HOPE. — recent facebook post by Michael Hopfe
After graduating from Punahou, Michael attended San Jose State University. While there he met and married his wife of 33 years, Sharon. They have four children: Tommy, 33; Trisha, 30; twins Brooke and Shannon, 25. There are also two grandchildren: Brandon, 9; Sierra, 4.
Along the way Michael forged a career working for the City of Hayward in the San Francisco Bay area. He retired from there in 2008 after 30 years of active public service.
Michael’s retirement was interrupted, however, when tragedy struck on December 2010. Following a fall, he broke his neck and received a C3 injury. He was paralyzed from the shoulders down. His wife cared for him for a year and a half but he has recently had to move into a care home in Concord. He notes that he is the “youngest and most stubborn” resident there and that he has his own room, a view of Mount Diablo, and, most importantly, ready access to BART for the Raider and A’s games.
For someone who was a certified gym rat and running marathons you might think that the challenges that have resulted from his injury would be insurmountable. But that’s not the case because, though he is confined to a wheelchair, Michael’s not taking life sitting down.
On a daily basis Michael is on his computer and reaching out. With just the movement of his head and neck he can communicate using Dragon Speak and drive his wheelchair using a voice-activated device. The computer’s also allowing him to study online at the University of Phoenix where he is majoring in human resources. His goal is to become a counselor to those impacted by critical incidents and suffering Post Traumatic Stress Disorders from injuries.
He’s also become a big advocate for support and awareness in both the quadriplegic and paraplegic communities. Notes Mike: 80% of all quadriplegics suffer some form of depression and 30% choose to isolate themselves. Michael himself was suffering from depression and alcoholism before his injury which he says “crippled him more than his spinal injury.” He feels like he has now been given a second chance and, if given the opportunity to help just one person, would consider that to be “the greatest thing.” For now, he’s concentrating on keeping a positive attitude, a positive outlook, and keeping his body as healthy as he can.
Michael would me to like to note that facebook has opened a whole new world to him and he is enjoying reconnecting with his Punahou Ohana there. He sends his love and aloha to everyone and looks forward to catching up with everyone online or in person should you be in the Bay Area.