2012 All Star Dad Winning Essay
Christopher Valerian is the most amazing MomDad (as he is affectionately called by his 4 daughters) that I know. Chris is a 44-year-old single Dad, who is raising his 4 beautiful girls (13, 11, 9, & 7). Chris wears many 'hats' and does so with so much pride. At home, he is a Daddy, a short order cook, house cleaner, a landscaper, the laundry service, a play date coordinator, a shoulder to cry on, a taxi service, a motivator, a role model, a homework helper, a cupcake baker and so much more! At work, he is a Physician, who helps run a hospital, a consultant and innovator, a teacher, and a healer. At church, he is a confirmation mentor, religious education teacher, and the altar server coordinator. In the community, he serves on the Board of Health, PTA Treasurer, Lighting Crew for school plays, 9/11 Tribute Center Volunteer, New Jersey Task Force One Urban Search & Rescue member, and an instructor at Somerset County Emergency Services Training Academy. In his spare time he teaches his girls about health and wellness by training with them for adventure races. Chris is always doing for others and as the saying goes - he will give you the shirt off his back. Chris and his daughters have withstood tremendous adversity, but through it all he remained true to himself and a constant beacon for his children. "So that others may live" is his motto and he truly would do anything and everything for his family, his friends, and his world.
2011 "All-Star" Dad - Robert Evans
Robert Evans makes a difference. A wonderful, devoted father, Robert consistently exhibits patience, love and kindness through his charitable efforts, parental involvement and legacy of leadership. In 2005, Robert lost his first daughter, Hanna, to cancer. Not defined by tragedy, but inspired by it, Robert founded Hanna's Day of Hope, a foundation that raises money via golf scrambles, silent auctions and corporate sponsorships. The monies raised are used to fund Make-A-Wish trips, toy drives and facility supplies and upgrades for Kosair Children's Hospital, including laptop computers and wireless internet equipment for the hospital's cancer wing. This year, Robert and his wife, Jennifer, funded a $1 million gift to create Hanna Catherine Evans Bone Marrow Transplant Program. In addition to his tireless efforts in Hanna's memory, Robert remains a devoted dad to his other three children, Sarah, Grace and Davis, giving his time and talent to everything from coaching sports teams to helping with homework and school projects. He is a model of leadership to both his family and community, having served his country as an officer in the US Army for five years before transitioning into leadership roles in the civilian business world. Robert epitomizes what men should strive to be: kind, generous, involved father - a true All-Star Dad.
2010 "All-Star" Dad - Andrew Correa
This Year I graduated Law School. This accomplishment would not be possible without the help and assistance of my father. My younger sister and I were living in an unfortunate situation with an abusive and negligent mother. She did not care about our education and we lived in utter poverty. He fought for custody and eventually was successful. He continued his fight despite others telling him it was a useless battle because no one ever granted custody to a father. When my sister and I moved with him, we both were unable to meet our respective grade requirements. But, by the end of the year, with his tireless help, we were able to graduate to the next class. He worked nights to ensure there was someone home to greet us and do our homework with afterschool. Approximately a decade later, with the help of my father, I was the first in our home to graduate college and I will be the first law school graduate this year. My sister has already completed her first two years of college. None of accomplishments could have been made possible without the help of my father.
2009 "All-Star" Dad - Robert Wunder
My son had plans to go to Temple University to study architecture. Just before his junior year in High School he dove into a swimming pool and broke his neck. He is paralyzed from the chest down. He finished high school and was accepted at Temple this past fall. Unfortunately, our insurance would not cover his care because they don't deem him "medically needy" enough. Instead of telling my son he had to stay home so we could care for him, my husband left his job after 23 years of teaching and moved into my son's dorm room with him. My husband sleeps on an air mattress on the floor. He gets my son who is 6'2", 220lbs, out of bed every day, showers and dresses him, feeds him, walks with him to class, sets up his laptop, cleans his room, and does his laundry. He puts him to bed at night and takes care of his personal issues. My husband then gets up every two hours to turn my son so he doesn't get pressure sores. He takes him to and from the hospital with various issues. For one 10 day stint, so that my son didn't have to sit in a hospital for two weeks and miss classes, my husband administered an IV through a pic line for an infection my son suffered. My son has 5 weeks left to his first year of college and plans to continue. When people tell my husband what an awesome thing he is doing, such a sacrifice, I love his response.. "He's my son."
2008 "All-Star" Dad - Murray M. Day
"He talks funny", I told my Mom after meeting 'Murray' in our small house in San Bernardino at the age of 6. My mother was divorced and met 'Murray' in London. He was from New Zealand, a place, at that age, I had never heard of. Over the next few years this 'Murray' character was around a lot. I guess he was OK. My younger sister and I were indifferent and still very close to our biological father. It wasn't for years that we would realize the importance and love that Murray had for us. My biological father was an amazing man and we loved him very much, however, at a young age he was diagnosed with a deadly cancer and suffered before passing at age 37. Murray took us to the hospital for visits and was supportive in ways a stepfather wasn't typically viewed. Before my father died, from his hospital bed he asked Murray to take care of his girls. I can say with confidence and admiration for Murray that those words have held true. Murray has supported my sisters (he had two more girls with my mother) and me through college and supported our dreams. Most importantly, I trust him and can depend on him for moral, financial, and emotional support. Murray isn't just an amazing father; he is an amazing person and one of the kindest and friendliest men you will ever meet. I can't imagine going out for dinner in our hometown and not having someone yell, "Hey Murray! How the heck are ya?" I couldn't have asked for a better stepfather. Although I knew him growing up as 'Murray', I think it's safe to say that he is truly my "Dad".
2007 "All Star Dad" - Larry Whitcomb
Larry Whitcomb became a father well before he expected. His own father passed away when Larry was 17. Larry then had to help his mother, five siblings and an aunt battling MS survive. While everyone pitched in, Larry's fatherly courage helped his family members get by every day. He sacrificed parts of his youth as a young father figure in his home. Larry overcame the pain of losing his father and still lives near his family. From math teacher to principal at Salamanca Schools, Larry's been a father figure for every student who's passed through his hometown. Always willing to stay late, tutor, and help out, Larry often hears stories from students about how much he meant to them, how much he cared and how he was somewhat of a father for them. When he's not helping students and thus strengthening his community, Larry's also my father. My sister and I can't recall one important moment in our lives he wasn't there for. From basketball to ballet, he always showed us his love. Now in our twenties, we call him and our mother best friends as often as parents. It seems that's the ultimate sign of an unbelievable father.
2006 "All Star Dad" - Darryl Webster
Throughout the years of being with my father, I have never been happier, and without my dad I wouldn't be who I am today. When I look at my friends, I see their fathers are divorced from their wives and they usually are gone most of the time, but I can depend on my father for everything. My father is dedicated to his family, volunteers in our community, and has contributed to making our country a better place. My father's schedule is based on my whole family, and he does whatever he can to put a smile on our faces. A few years ago, my father asked the rest of the family if we wanted to volunteer at his school to help repair the gym for the disabled kids, and we said yes. My father not only loves us, he loves all children and does whatever he can to put a smile on their faces, too. During Hurricane Katrina, my father worked to help the evacuees by spending many hours on the computer to find the rest of their family members lost after the hurricane. Once he did, he drove to the D. C. Armory to tell them, and I've never seen so much joy in a family in my whole life. My father also took them on a tour around the D. C. area to show them where the White House and the Washington Memorial are located, started a clothes drive, and raised money for them. I look back at my father's unselfishness and the love he has for others and say to myself that I am so lucky to have him as my father - a real dad -my All Star.
2005 "All Star Dad" - Daniel Sullivan
My father, Dan Sullivan, is the most selfless, hardworking, caring father I have ever met. I have literally never seen a father love his family so much as my dad. As a firefighter and floor sander, my father works nonstop to provide for our family. The values he has instilled in us is priceless. Work hard! Save your money! Follow your dreams! Whether it is buying Christmas presents for a stranded family, making handmade retirement plaques for every retiring firefighter, coordinating toy drives for less fortunate families, or assisting an out-of-town elderly couple in distress with food, shelter, and transportation, my father has an amazingly huge heart.