Michael J. Ramirez
On September 3rd, 2009, Michael Ramirez received the devastating news that he was diagnosed with Amyotrophic
Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. ALS is a progressive disorder that causes permanent
paralysis and destroys nerve cells that control voluntary muscle movement. People with ALS typically live three
to five years after diagnosis. Some 5,600 Americans are diagnosed with ALS each year. Approximately 35,000 people
at any given time are living with ALS in the United States. Currently, there is no cure or treatment.
Mike was a commercial banker in the National and Local markets for 35 years. He was Executive Vice President, San
Diego South Regional Manager and head of the Corporate Banking Group for Pacific Western Bank. Throughout his
successful career, he served on numerous Non-Profit and Foundation Boards, recently including The Nice Guys, Mercy
Hospital Foundation Board and the ARC of San Diego. He was a LEAD graduate.
Mike was very active throughout his life. He played baseball, basketball and football at Helix High school. He
also played football for state and nationally ranked Grossmont Junior College and the University of San Diego.
After graduating from USD, Mike completed marathons, triathlons, long distance cycling races, and golfed
throughout the country. He also studied karate, yoga and played Over-the-Line in San Diego. He had great memories
of his competitive endeavors because he was always participating with friends. Mike and friends have hiked and
backpacked in the Sierras and the Andes of Peru on the Inca Trail. A trip to Bhutan to backpack in the Himalayas
was cut short in 2010 due to his diagnosis.
I have never once asked, Why me? I wouldn’t want this to happen to anyone else.
Shortly after receiving his shocking diagnosis, Mike turned his energy to fighting for and prolonging his
quality of life; and now has taken on the challenge of searching for a cure for ALS through fundraising. In May
2010, Mike and his wife, Maureen, along with friends and family co-founded Team Godfather Charitable Foundation,
a Non-Profit organization devoted to curing life-threatening diseases.
By definition, Godfather is a man who gives direction and leads by example. It's no wonder that Mike’s friends
have adopted this nickname for him. His strong demeanor, direct leadership and charismatic laugh are part of his
character to all that know him. Mike’s new sense of urgency has translated into a positive and committed plan of
action to direct resources to help find a cure for ALS.
Recently, Mike said, "I have never once asked, Why me?" He added, "I wouldn’t want this to happen to anyone
else". Mike's story is proof that life is a gift, and we can make a difference.
Michael and Maureen were married at the University of San Diego, where they originally met, and were blissfully
married ever since. Mike passed away April 22, 2012. His memory lives on through Maureen and their two beautiful
children, Michael Jr. and Colleen.