Family finds inspiration through son

Published 8:56 am Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Sometimes a story begins with one idea, but evolves to a greater one as all the characters come into play.

My initial interest was to meet Paul Seeger, a custom metal fabricator and welder, who created a unique fire screen for a residence in Helena.

Along the way, I came to know his wife, Mia, who has written the equivalent of a book via her chronicles of family life:

Writing has long been important in Mia’s life and she has kept a journal/diary since the age of 10. Mia’s online recollections are particularly poignant –covering the past six years during which the Seeger’s son, Stephen, has grown into his mid-teens.

“Stephen was born almost three months premature and has courageously faced many challenges including the diagnosis of a congenital heart defect at birth; the diagnosis of Cerebral Palsy at the age of two; the diagnosis of mental retardation at the age of five, and a seizure disorder at the age of five,” Mia said.

The family unit has been shaped, understandably, by Stephen’s special needs. Although he is nonverbal, his actions speak for him.

“Stephen is a most humble and unpretentious soul. He does not see class or color; he sees the spirit of a person and loves everyone he meets,” the Seeger’s said.

“Raising a special needs child can be a lonely place for many people,” Mia said. The Seegers have found a helpful resource in the quarterly parent meetings of EMPOWER, through the Alabaster Parks and Recreation Center.

“EMPOWER offers a variety of recreational programs for children and adults with disabilities,” said Alicia Walters, senior/therapeutic manager. “We focus on independence, socialization, developing life skills and just having fun.”

Paul is a welder certified in structural and piping and supports his family principally with commercial fieldwork — hanging the iron skeleton for construction projects. With 25 years welding experience, the job has its hazards — a small mistake can be fatal.

“Falling is the main risk,” Paul said.

Currently, Paul is working on the Women and Infants Center at UAB, but his technical training is also parlayed into more creative projects in his workshop off Rolling Mill Street.

He has helped a friend build a custom exhaust system for his Harley, designed a lighted hanging pots and pans rack, and completed a beautiful granite-topped iron-base console table that would be a stunning addition to any foyer.

For a further look at Paul’s work, visit