About Mike & Pam Mirabella
On a cold morning in December of 1972, at San Francisco’s Kaiser Hospital, Mike and Pam’s first child Carla was born with Down Syndrome. The hospital staff gave them the option of giving her up for adoption. They chose to keep her.
Eighteen years of speech therapy later, Carla gave a speech at her graduation from De Anza High School in Richmond. She studied culinary arts in the Transition Program at Contra Costa College, and worked and lived independently in Napa until 2008, when she died of a glioblastoma brain tumor.
After her birth, Mike and Pam’s parish priest had said to them that Carla was a gift, but at the time, they didn’t understand what that meant.
Inspired by Carla, Mike and Pam have dedicated their lives to inclusion, belonging, and compassion.
Mike Mirabella, aka Papa Mike —
Musician, Songwriter, and Author of Children’s Books
Mike Mirabella, known by friends and fans as “Papa Mike,” wrote the poem “On the Luck of an Irish Sailor” when he was 15, and years later, Irish singer Shay Black of the legendary Black Family from Dublin recorded it. He has been a public school teacher, musician, and poet. In 2016, with the help of talented illustrator Amy O’Hanlon, Mike wrote an award-winning children’s book inspired by Carla, called Sister Butterfly.
Mike serves on the board of directors of the Bay Area Independent Publishers Association (BAIPA), and continues to compose music, write poetry, and publish children’s books.
Coming in 2021 is Mike’s second book in The Carla Stories, I Used To Be Shy, based on the song co-written with Lenny Lipton, who composed “Puff The Magic Dragon.”
Pam Mirabella, a Voice for Change —
Education and Special Needs
Pam Mirabella became a lifelong advocate for Carla and other children with special needs. She was elected to the Contra County School Board, where she served for 28 years. She also chaired the West Contra Costa Unified School District Special Education Community Advisory Committee, as well as creating and leading support groups for parents and siblings of the disabled.
For decades, she lobbied legislators to address the needs of all our children, especially those who are most challenged. She continues to champion laws that better protect the civil rights for our disabled citizens.
Contact Mike or Pam if you’d like them to speak to your group or read from their books.
[See the Media Room for a more detailed biographies of Mike and Pam as well as contact information.]