DALLAS - After he was diagnosed with ALS, a North Texas man was told he’d be lucky to live another five years. But instead of viewing it as a death sentence, he turned it into a rebirth of sorts.
And, 15 years later John Paine’s inspirational approach to life is being chronicled by Dallas filmmakers.
Paine was a successful Dallas businessman before his diagnosis.
“One word from dad was just powerful. You wrap that in grace and love and he was just a powerful, powerful man,” said Joshua Paine, his son.
Now paralysis tightens its grip on his weakening body.
His daughter Amanda Wilson recalls getting a call from her mom about the diagnosis.
“I pulled out my nursing books and I looked it up and it had three sentences in it. First was its description, what it does and a patient has three to five years to live. Not cure. I was devastated,” she said.
That was 15 years ago.
Paine’s children say he fought the hard fight for years, trying every procedure. Then he had a shift in mind and heart.
“Instead of it being, I’m fighting against the disease, it was almost leaning in to this disease. There was a shift from I’m going to fight this out to what gifts can this produce,” Joshua said.
“This is true living. It’s the reason why I admonish men daily to not wait until they are dying before they start really living,” John said.
“For dad, suffering is his everyday and instead of fighting against it he opens his hands to it and says, ‘Okay, God. What are you going to do with it?’” Amanda said.
John’s message and approach to life got the attention of a North Texas pastor, who reached out to the non-profit organization Fotolanthropy. The group was also behind the hugely successful documentary about quadruple amputee Staff Sgt. Travis Mills.
They decided sharing John’s story was a must.
“When I met him, there’s just a humbleness about him that I was just so drawn to,” said Katie Norris with Fotolanthropy. “Hopefully people will be moved to learn more about ALS.”
John’s health continues to decline. But the film that is sure to inspire others also is also lifting his spirit.
“The beautiful part about being able to make this story has been not only a reconnection for us as a family to be able to get back and remember to celebrate life, but it gives dad something to look forward to,” Joshua said.
The Luckiest Man’s red carpet premiere is Thursday night at the Angelika Theater in Dallas. Tickets are sold out, but more theaters could be added soon.