Many successful young men have walked through the hallways of Cathedral Prep. From Super Bowl champion and former NFL Defensive Player of the Year Bob Sanders to the first United States Secretary of Homeland Security Tom Ridge to the seventh bishop of the Diocese of Erie, Alfred Michael Watson. While these are just a few of the many accomplished Prep graduates, there are many unrecognized graduates who have made just as great of an impact in the community. One unspoken name is that of an everyday man, Mr. Paul DeRaimo, Cathedral Prep Class of 1976.
For nearly a decade, DeRaimo has devoted countless, unpaid hours to serving youth from all walks of life, mainly as the boy’s varsity basketball coach at Our Lady of Mount Carmel. DeRaimo is one of many men who miss warm dinners at night, put aside their personal interests, and regrettably miss out on some quality family time so that they can mentor and guide boys to be productive adults. He doesn’t achieve this through punishment, demeaning words, or criticism, but rather through character building and positive reinforcement. DeRaimo has always preached of the transformational values of Prep and how valuable it has been to him throughout his life.
DeRaimo did not come from a privileged background. At the tender age of 5, when a fatherly role is most important, DeRaimo and his mother found themselves on their own when his father left him. Despite this, according to him, “Prep was chosen for me because my mom knew early on that she wanted something better for me than what she had and what my dad had, despite the financial burden being put on her.” When asked about challenges he endured, he proudly recalls saying, “my city school friends pressured me against Prep and ripped on me, but after my first semester, I knew that there was no better place for me.”
DeRaimo speaks fondly of his former teachers, one in particular being Mr. Stanley Brzezicki. “He engaged the students and taught them life skills through anecdotes of everyday life,” he said.
Another great memory he relayed was the camaraderie between all the students. “When it came down to something important, you knew they had your back.”
The honor and discipline that was instilled in DeRaimo from his years at Prep translates into his everyday life since graduating: from raising kids, to coaching basketball and karate, to his long term position as director of quality control at Ridg-U-Rak, one of the largest pallet rack storage manufacturers in North America. According to DeRaimo, “Honor and discipline is the backbone of everything in life professionally and personally.”
Prep’s unmatched structured curriculum and discipline bolstered DeRaimo’s math skills and the ability to be consistently accurate. He credits these traits to leading him where he is today.
Many alumni have made headline news, but it is men like Paul DeRaimo who I would like to personally recognize and give credit to as being one of the many unsung heroes that benefit us every day. Despite the odds of an unprivileged background, and a father who left him, DeRaimo has truly lived out the Prep’s mission of building men of spirit, mind and body. He is a strong, intelligent, honorable man, who is always willing to help out a kid in need and dedicate his own personal time and efforts. His strength as a proud and grateful alumni of Prep serves as a fine example that if you set yourself apart and do not conform to external pressures and strive for the best, the impact you can have is immeasurable.
On behalf of the Cathedral Prep community, thank you Paul, and all those Ramblers who have gone unmentioned, thank you for your immeasurable impact.