Wife of deadly hatchet attack victim creates Christmas event to honor late husband

Posted at 4:58 PM, Dec 18, 2018

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — A woman who lost her husband after he was brutally attacked by a man with a hatchet is remembering him through a Christmas caroling event.

Lana Paavola's husband, Joel, was killed on June 4 at The Balance Training gym after a former employee walked inside with a hatchet and knife and attacked him.

Police said 46-year-old Joel Paavola died from his injuries. The alleged suspect Domenic Micheli was later arrested in Kentucky.

The couple had five children together.

"We just miss Joel. It's hard and so we decided to start a new tradition, something that would bring love and joy to others. It's heart breaking. Every day is just a new challenge but you know what, we're doing it. We're getting through it. I have wonderful kids and we're just taking it day by day," Lana said.

The two met in Nashville thanks to mutual friends. In 2012, they opened The Balance on Harding Pike in Belle Meade. Lana said her husband had a passion to help others workout.

On Tuesday afternoon, the family and friends will meet at the gym to practice Christmas songs then move to The Cloister for caroling.

"We're going to start here because this is where the heart is. This is Joel's place, we're going to start here and do a little run through, do a little practice and then head on over to the community," Lana said.

Friends of Joel said he was beloved. Kathryn Brown, 54, remembers Joel encouraged her work out and challenged her to do a completely hand-stand.

"You always came away feeling good about yourself whether it was working out, having dinner or hearing stories about his children," she said.

Long-time friend Jay Clementi first met Joel and Lana when he moved to Nashville with his wife.

"This time of year is just a tough one, it's an amazing time of year but it's all about family and a very, very important part of their family is not going to be here," Clementi said.

Lana said her husband also loved music.

"He just loved music of all genres, he didn't sing or he wasn't talented in that aspect but he did love music and he actually deejayed actually a little bit in college. He always had something different playing in here," she laughed.

Paavola said she plans to put on the new Christmas caroling event each year.