Mike Paredes, born and raised in New Jersey, works as a pilot for United Airlines. Travel and adventure are what led him to his wife Nancy, also a pilot, and they have explored the world together, both on and off the job. It was Nancy who planned their first African safari, and Mike was transformed by the experience. Since then, they have explored the wilds of Kenya, Namibia, Mozambique, South Africa, Zimbabwe and of course, Zambia, and taken a deep dive into volunteer wildlife conservation work. Working with Dazzle has allowed Mike to see that visiting the village of Mfuwe, for example, and adventuring amongst the wild animals of safari-goers' dreams just beyond the village allows Dazzle supporters to see first-hand the connection between the people, the wildlife and the land.
His favorite memory with Dazzle is when a young woman named Silvana saved up enough money to come on a Dazzle Africa safari because of her love of elephants. He happened to be with her the first time she saw one. An elephant wandered into their camp, and her reaction was one he will never forget- complete awe and reverence, a sense that the reality of the elephant is even larger than the fantasy. His friend, (and Dazzle Africa leader) Stacy, captured the moment in a photo. The tears in Silvana's eyes still put tears in his own when he thinks of them, especially now that Silvana has passed on. He knows that moment was life-changing for her, and he'll never forget it.
Mike's superpower is making connections with people and connecting people. He enjoys listening to someone's story, their adventure through life. It's really exciting when he realizes that their life experiences dovetail with others he's met, often in a way that can benefit others. Over the years, this has resulted in creating many partnerships, working groups and adventures amongst people who might not know or work with each other otherwise.
When not flying, Mike hones his photography skills, kayaks, and sails with Nancy in Annapolis, Maryland, where they live with their animals. Speaking of, his spirit animal is one particular mystical-looking kudu whom he shared a few amazing moments within the South Luangwa.