01/19/2014 07:18 EST | Updated 03/21/2014 05:59 EDT


MURRIETA, Calif. - As his 7-year-old son Mikey lay in a hospital bed on life support, the victim of a drunk driver who had smashed into his family's car, Paul Cortez took the boy's hand and made a solemn promise to God: If his son survived, no matter in what condition, he and his family would always be there for him.

It was a promise the family would keep for 31 years, during a time in which Mikey would grow from little boy to teenager and, finally, into strapping, 150-pound adult.