This week, West Newsmagazine talks with Michael and Sarah Flamion. Their names were not familiar to most West County residents two years ago. That situation changed in a tragic way in early July 2016 when Michael, a Ballwin police officer, was shot during a routine traffic stop and left paralyzed from the neck down. Since then, Michael and Sarah have become familiar to many due to the publicity surrounding efforts to help them, including the new “smart home” built for them through a program sponsored by the Gary Sinise Foundation.
For anyone who doesn’t know you well, what thing do you think they would find the most interesting or surprising to learn about you?
Sarah: We actually aren’t comfortable being in the public eye as we have been. Interviews aren’t easy for us, for example, and talking to people we don’t know is something that we have needed to get used to. The community has been so awesome to us, though, and it’s not like we want to push anyone away. When we are out and about and people come up to us – and it happens quite a bit – we don’t mind that. But it’s not something that’s part of our personality or something we feel we are good at.
Michael: We really are what you would call private people and tend to stay to ourselves.
If you could travel to any place in the world, where would it be?
Michael: I’d have to say Italy. No particular reason other than the fact that it looks like an interesting place to visit.
Sarah: I would say Ireland. All the pictures I’ve seen just make it look gorgeous.
What is something you never have done but would like to do?
Michael: I must say that I’d like to scuba dive. I’ve seen it on TV and it looks like it would be a lot of fun … all the things that you can see underwater.
Sarah: I’d like to go parasailing. We’ve actually talked about it, but I’ve never done it.
As a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
Michael: I wanted to be a Navy SEAL. That’s what I would be whenever we were playing.
Sarah: I had two things that I wanted to be and they may seem completely opposite but they’re really not. I wanted to be a clown and help people feel good because people do feel better when they are laughing. But I also wanted to be a doctor. A doctor’s goal is to help make people feel better. So a clown and a doctor may seem very different but yet their goals are similar – making people feel better.
What are the things that make you most happy?
Sarah: Spending time with family and friends. Looking back, those are the happiest times that come to mind.
Michael: I was thinking the same thing and wondering how to word it. But Sarah really hit the nail on the head with what she said. We like to laugh and joke with each other, too … from the time we get up until when we go to bed.
How would you like your life to be remembered?
Michael: I guess I’d like to be remembered as a fun and caring guy. I’d like to think people had fun when they were around me. And I’d like to think at work that people were glad to have me there.
Sarah: I’d like to be remembered as a good friend, someone who was helpful. As a couple, I would hope we would be remembered as pushing forward with life and not letting anything get us down.