To Love and Serve 5

NFL standout, successful businessman and loving father, Paul McDonald is a grateful man.

Paul McDonald remembers his upbringing with great affection. Born in Montebello and raised in Covina, his father Frank was head of maintenance for the Hacienda/La Puente School District and his mother Annie was a stay-at-home mom, until Paul was high school age and both parents worked at night cleaning the GTE building in Covina for Paul to attend the private Catholic high school, Bishop Amat Memorial High School in La Puente.

“My dad and mom were literally cleaning toilets, so I could attend Bishop Amat,” Paul says.

Paul credits his parents teaching him and his older brother Chris what he considers the important things in life.

“They taught me a work ethic, the value of a dollar and the importance of family,” he says.

The expectations were high for Paul. Bringing home all A’s and one B, his mother would want to know why he got a B.

“I was able to translate to my sports career that same level of expectation,” Paul says.

Football was why Paul went to Bishop Amat. He graduated to varsity quarterback his sophomore year and had a good game against rival St. Anthony High School in Long Beach, when he threw three touchdown passes. A Cal Berkeley scout took notice, and he was put on their recruitment list. Only because Cal Berkeley quarterback coach Paul Hackett was hired by new USC coach John Robinson did Paul end up at USC on a football scholarship.

“It was a phenomenal experience to be there,” Paul says. “There were so many great athletes. I only did well because I worked incredibly hard, both in the classroom and on the football field.”

One of nine USC quarterbacks, the first day of training camp, Paul got the highest score on the quarterback test. By his sophomore year, he was back-up quarterback and starting quarterback both his junior and senior years, taking the team to a national championship in 1978. During his two years as a starter, the Trojans accumulated a 22-1-1 record en route to two Rose Bowl victories, with Paul setting 17 NCAA, Pac-10 and USC records, earning him All-American honors in 1979. He was also a first team Academic All-American, received the NCAA Top Five Scholar-Athlete award and was honored as a National Football Foundation & Hall of Fame recipient.

Paul was recruited by the Cleveland Browns, where he spent six years, leading them to the play-offs in 1982. It was in Cleveland that he got his first experience with philanthropy. During his 1984 season, Paul formed “Paul’s Pals,” an organization that aided hematology/oncology patients at Cleveland Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital.

“I wanted to help, especially after bonding with a kid named PJ, who, when I went back to see him two weeks later, was gone. It was an eye-opener for me. The group helped fundraise for the hospital, but most of our efforts were to connect the kids to the players.”

For his efforts, Paul was honored as a Miller Lite Man-of-the-Year nominee during his 1984 season for his community service.

After concluding his NFL career with the Dallas Cowboys, for whom he played two years, Paul headed back to Southern California with his wife Allyson, who he had met his junior year at USC and later married in 1982, when he was with the Cleveland Browns.

By the time Paul and Allyson moved to Newport Beach in 1988, they had two children–Michael and Stephanie.

At the time, Paul was 30 years old, retired from the NFL, had a wife and two children and no job experience.

“I knew I was good talking to people, building relationships and follow-through,” he says, “and those qualities could be applied to anything.”

“Looking back on that time now, I realize that most people don’t realize their true destiny or don’t take the risk of exploring that place within themselves. I feel blessed because I’ve proven to myself that it can be done. The David Hawkins book, Power vs. Force, has been an inspiration to me because Hawkins says we can create the world we want.”

Paul’s successful career has spanned working as an investment vice president for Wells Fargo Bank, a financial consultant for Merrill Lynch, a partner with Spectrum Alliance Group, specializing in management, marketing and sales consulting, and developing and managing large national commercial real estate transactions, and Fidelity National Title Insurance Company, where he is currently a senior vice president.

Football continued to be a priority throughout his career, as Paul served as expert analyst for USC football’s televised broadcasts and co-hosted a college football show for many ABC affiliate stations called “Pac-10 Preview” through the mid-1990s. After that, he served as the radio analyst for USC football broadcasts for 15 years, receiving the Southern California Sports Broadcasters Radio Color Commentary Award three times, and, in 2004, he was honored with the prestigious NCAA Silver Anniversary Award.

Football lived on in his family, as all three sons are into the game. All quarterbacks, Michael, 31, played at USC, Andrew, 28, at New Mexico State and Matthew, 17, currently at Mission Viejo High School.

As to grandkids, Michael, in business development at Bamko, and his wife Lauren have two children–James, 2, and Ben, six months–and Stephanie, married to Nick Foster and a partner in a tutoring business, is expecting this October. Andrew, still single, works for Brain Treatment Center in Mission Viejo in its athletic performance division.

“We have great kids,” Paul says. “They’re good people, who care about and respect others. Allyson, the love of my life, has been instrumental in their upbringing and is the heartbeat of our family.”

Paul’s penchant for helping others surfaced again six years ago when USC alumnus Barry Hoeven approached him to speak at several fundraisers for Kure It Cancer Research, which Hoeven had founded in 2010 to raise funds for underfunded cancer research. When Hoeven asked Paul for help taking the nonprofit to the next level, Paul hooked him up with filmmaker Jack Baric, who was making a movie about the USC/UCLA football rivalry called “A City Divided.” Together, the three of them founded Rivals United for a Kure, an annual Kure It gala fundraiser begun in 2011, that has netted $1.5 million for UCLA Jonsson and USC Norris Comprehensive Cancer Centers.

Paul has been the gala co-host along with UCLA quarterback great Matt Stevens each year and serves on the gala committee, contributing immensely to fundraising and overall success.

With Hoeven passing away after losing his 18-year battle with cancer in July, Paul says he learned much from his friend.

“The thing that was awesome about Barry was that he always sought solutions instead of just being a victim.”

Paul also donates his time to KidWorks and CASA and various other community charities.

Philanthropy to Paul is simple.

“The ultimate question we all have to ask ourselves is why are we here. I believe it is to love and to serve.”

“The ultimate question we all have to ask ourselves is why are we here. I believe it is to love and to serve.”