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Coach's Wife Paulette Bonamego on the Power of Community Involvement

Jun 03, 2019

While Paulette Bonamego's "arms wide open" approach has shaped football communities across the East, her relationship to the Central Michigan University Chippewas proved to be the most impactful.

Upon her arrival in Mount Pleasant, Paulette quickly earned the title “Momma B” for her enthusiasm for connecting with the community. Fate quickly brought her into the life of Alana, a CMU student facing the worst of what had been a lifelong battle with a brain tumor.

Paulette and Alana formed a close bond and Paulette quickly became a pillar of support for Alana. Using the power of their combined social media presence, Paulette and her husband John were able to raise and match GoFundMe contributions to cover partial costs of Alana’s intensive surgery. The surgery was a success and after recovery and rehabilitation Alana was able to make her way back to CMU.

In reflecting upon the experience, Paulette notes, “Things happen for a reason…She was as wonderful for me as I was for her.”

Paulette recognizes that there have always been charitable causes she has found personal connections with regardless of the city John’s work as a coach brought the Bonamego family to. In Mount Pleasant, Paulette connected with Kim Seidel, leader of the local Child Advocacy Center, a resource for sexually abused children.

Paulette points to her refusal to be derailed by her own experience of sexual violence as fuel for her advocacy. “You become a victim or you become a survivor,” says Paulette. “People want to turn a blind eye because it makes them uncomfortable.” 

Her willingness to share her own story proved to be valuable to CMU as students looked to her as a trusted resource on the matter. “I think about how much I’ve learned and how much I thought I knew. You never know everything about everything. You’re growing all the time!”

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