Michael Gaddes is an Inspiration

The second son of Bill and Carole Gaddes, Michael was born on June 13th, 1982 in Pontiac, Michigan.  Raised in Waterford, Michigan, Michael excelled in both sports and academics, despite being diagnosed with Cystic Fibrosis at an early age.  Like his older brother, Tony, Michael was an active football and baseball player, which developed into a life-long love of both games (Michael was an avid fan of the Detroit Tigers, Detroit Lions, and Oakland Raiders).  Apart from playing high school baseball at Waterford Kettering High School, Michael earned a 4.0 GPA and was active in various student groups, including the National Honors Society.  As a high school senior, his peers voted him “Best Personality.”  It was also during this time that Michael was accepted to Western Michigan University with several scholarships to study engineering.

Following in his Mother’s footsteps, Michael enrolled at WMU in the fall of 2000, where he would expand his already-huge circle of friends, meet his future wife, and win the WMU College of Engineering’s most prestigious award.  While living in the Eicher-LeFevre Residence Hall with Ben, a close friend from high-school, Michael formed what would become known as the “Kalamazoo Krew,” a group of friends that would spend the next several years living, studying, and playing together.  Michael also met his future wife, Kristen, during his first semester at WMU (they would eventually marry on August 13th, 2005).  With his classmate and friend, Brad, Michael’s senior project would win the School of Engineering and Management Technology’s most prestigious award, the “Senior Project of the Year” award.  As a result of his studies at WMU, Michael landed a job directly out of college with the engineering firm PlasTech.

After graduation, Michael and Kristen moved back to Metro Detroit, eventually purchasing a home in Waterford.  At PlasTech, Michael worked as a project engineer, while Kristen worked as a CPA in Downtown Detroit.  Back in Waterford, Michael enjoyed living near his family and friends (several Kalamazoo Krew members also relocated and/or returned to the Waterford area).

During this time, however, Michael’s Cystic Fibrosis posed several challenges, which resulted in a double-lung transplant in March 2008 at the University of Michigan.  After a long-recovery, 2008 proved to be a busy and happy time:  Michael become involved in “Donate Life Michigan,” lectured to medical students at the University of Michigan, and was the “Best Man” in his best friend’s wedding.  In short, Michael wasted no time in taking advantage of the “gift” given to him by his donor’s family.

Despite the second-chance afforded by the transplant, Michael fell-ill and was admitted to the Cleveland Clinic.  As a result of complications resulting from the transplant, he passed away on October 17th, 2009 with his family and friends by his side.

Throughout his life Michael was known for his intelligence, humor, sharp wit, and determination.  As a result, Michael inspired the founding of the The Gaddes Foundation, a group dedicated to raise awareness of organ donation and Cystic Fibrosis.  Moreover, The Gaddes Foundation is dedicated to perpetuating the memory of Michael and the many lives he touched.  Indeed, Michael wasn’t far from the truth when he laughingly referred to himself as “the Man, the Myth, the Legend.”  Michael’s life was truly a “gift,” and his “big” life has left The Gaddes Foundation with a lot to give.