Gary Aurin: 2017 All Star Dad Winning Essay
Hi, my name is Brett and I am nominating my Dad for All-Star Dad. I am a twin and my brother has autism. This makes our home different from many other homes. My brother goes to 7 therapies a week and one on the weekend so we are pretty busy so by the time we get home in the evening my mom is tired so she does her stuff and my Dad takes over and helps my brother, Kyle with homework. We are both in 7th grade now so we have so much more homework then we used to have. I watch my Dad work with Kyle and sometimes you have to have a whole lot of patience with Kyle which honestly sometimes I do not have. My Dad listens to Kyle and talks calmly with him and has so much patience. I know my Dad is tired from working all day (my Dad is in remission from cancer from last year) and I know from his cancer treatments he gets tired so much faster than he used to but he does what he has to do in order for my brother Kyle to be successful at school and in the community. My brother gets good grades and that is because of how much my Dad works with him. Kyle also does sports and my Dad is there to help if Kyle needs it and cheer him on. My Dad either goes to my game or my brothers and my Mom does the other game. He is also great with my Mom. Since she does all of the driving during the week to school and from school to therapies, the cooking, walking Kyle's service dog Clifford and whatever needs to be done at the house she gets a break on Sunday. My Dad takes us to yoga therapy and maybe the movies or Chuck E Cheese and out to lunch on Sunday's. Also my Mom is great at finding fun stuff for us to do (usually through an autism organization for a low cost) and my Dad never has any issues with it even if he is really tired from his cancer. We go skateboarding, surfing, boating, paddle boarding, concerts, biking and Boomers. Last summer my Dad was so sick we did not have a summer vacation and I know he felt so bad about that he just could not make it but this year he said he can take us to Dinsey World but I know I will have to be a big kid and help my Dad with my brother with watching him, cooking our food and doing what my Dad needs help with. Dad does not ask so I will have to help him all on my own. Dad had a brother and sister with Cerebral Palsy and I know he does not want to burden me with work and just let me be a kid but I love my Dad so much and watching him work so hard when he does not feel good I have to help. My Dad will ask about my day at school and my baseball games if he goes to Kyle's - he makes me the best vegie bacon and grilled cheese sandwiches ever on the weekends and sometimes takes me in the evenings we get frozen yogurt together and talk. I love my Mom very much and spend a lot of time with her so these times when I am just with my Dad makes me so happy. He is a very smart man so if I am having any trouble with my school work like Geometry or Science he will sit down with me and explain it to me and make sure I understand. I never feel he is in a hurry or trying to get it done so he can do something else - I feel his love for me and makes sure I understand what he is saying and has great patience. My Dad is a great Dad and I know to me he will always be an "All Star Dad" to me.
Christopher Irving: 2016 All Star Dad Winning Essay
My All-Star Dad's career has taken him to the ends of the Earth, to the gates of hell and back again. I get honor, commitment, service, the traits I think that just by sharing his genetics have been passed to me.
But before this last summer I don't know how much I could have really told you about the man my father is until now.
My dad wore the uniform of an American Airman to over 14 different countries not to wave a flag over the people who lived there, instead to show them they have the right to their way of life, liberties all human kind deserve, and the right to pursue happiness.
He has been a leader of men, a survivor of war and a friend. I heard the story for the first time at my father's retirement in 2014 and still I can't believe that the man who taught me how to ride a bike returned home with a Bronze Star for saving his commander and team from a improvised explosive device.
MSgt Christopher Irving, retired. My father could have went on to be a Chief Master Sergeant his commander commented, "he is choosing to take on the hardest tasking of his life, he is choosing to be in the service of his family." Seeing my father be awarded the medal/hearing the words of his bravery and leadership. I realize his legacy is not just in me--my five siblings, but the Airman he served with.
David Gonzales: 2015 All Star Dad Winning Essay
I know everyone thinks their dad is special or the best. To that person, he is. To me, my dad absolutely is. Our story might be a little different than most. My dad and I met when I was three. He was a friend of the family's and him and my mom eventually started dating and well, the rest is history. Since that moment, he loved me and I always felt like he did. He took me in and accepted me as his own and has been the only father I have ever known.
Over the years, I have learned so many lessons from him as he has lived through very difficult situations in life that have each served as lesson points for me. Probably the most important lesson I think he wants me to take away from him is to work hard and believe in myself. However, I think the most important lesson that he has taught without realizing it is unconditional love. I am sure it is not easy for a man to come into a family and accept a child that is not really his. He has never made me feel like I didn't belong. Every day when he comes home from work, I can count on him to find me in the house and give me a hug and ask about my day.
Even though I know he works very hard at his job and often takes other side jobs on weekends, he always finds a moment to plan a father/daughter movie or dinner date or just talk to me about things going on in my life. He makes me laugh when I want to cry, he makes me smile when I feel discouraged. Most of all, he has made me feel like a blessing instead of a burden. Some fathers are given by chance and some are given by God. I am thankful that my dad was chosen for me and I will never take that for granted. Because of him, I have learned for the past 11 years how to love even in a harsh world and without expecting anything in return and see the beautiful in all things and situations.
2014 All Star Dad - Robert Reid
My father raised four amazing children, including his mentally disabled, yet beautifully inspiring daughter, Olivia. My little sister suffers from Epilepsy and my father has gone above and beyond to fight for her and all individuals with disabilities. He is the long-time admired coach of Special Olympics Swimming in the Greater Worcester area. Although not required, he makes special certificates, awards and games for all his swimmers every year. He has walked in local and national Epilepsy Foundation relays. He is the man that carries around several Dunkin Donuts gift cards to give to the homeless individuals he passes. He has a 'gratitude board,' and every week he writes three things he is grateful for - he is the definition of selfless. On Christmas he helps my sister make Christmas cards for every employee at our favorite restaurant. He is constantly giving to those around him and never expects anything in return. His motto (he even has a tattoo of it - don't tell him I told you though): "Anything is Possible." He brings fun and liveliness into every situation he enters. Lastly, it is difficult for my sister to wake up for school because of her disorder, so in order to ease the process, in the mornings, he dresses up as Justin Beiber (I'm talking hat, jacket, a headset microphone) and sings her favorite songs to make her smile. (I have pictures!)
2013 "All-Star" Dad - Jackson Drumgoole II (Major, U. S. Army)
Major Drumgoole began his military career in 1993 as an enlisted member with the U. S. Air Force as a Computer Technician. In 1996 he received a conditional release to enlist in the Army as a helicopter maintenance technician. In 2003 he received his Commission from the prestigious Officer Candidate School where he graduated as Distinguished Military Graduate.
Jackson was selected as military intelligence officer where he served as the first arctic trained multi-sensor platoon leader in the Army's history while stationed in Fort Wainwright, Alaska.
Major Drumgoole has served as an Executive Officer, Assistance Brigade Intelligence Officer, Collection Manager and Trainer for Intelligence staffs across the Continental United States, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands. He has also served as one of the top Company Commanders within the largest military intelligence battalion in the U. S. Army and as an Intelligence advisor for the National Information and Investigation Agency, and Ministry of Interior for the Government of Iraq during the recent transition.
Major Drumgoole's personal accomplishments include author of an eBook entitled They Call Me Daddy: A Diary of a Dysfunctional Father. This book encourages men of all status to be active members in rearing their children. Specifically, Major Drumgoole wrote the book based strongly on having experienced a divorce, receiving custody of his son and raising him as a scholar, athlete and community servant. He also established a website dedicated to encouraging, educating, edifying and empowering dads through frank discussions on family, faith, fatherhood, and functionality (www.theycallmedad.com).
During deployments in Iraq, Major Drumgoole established men's groups to help foster positive relationships between fathers and their families back home. He established M.E.N. (Morality Empowerment Network), both accountability groups, comprised of all ranks and races focused on men improving themselves and their relationships with their families.
The Major has numerous Awards and Decorations for his service including (3) Meritorious Service Medals, (2) Army Commendation Medals, The Army Superior Unit Award, (2) National Defense Service Medals, (4) Iraqi Campaign Medals, and (3) Overseas Service Medals among them.
The Major is the 5th of 6 children to SFC (Retired) Jackson and Thomasine Drumgoole (retired nurse with the Veterans Administration Hospital). Currently he lives in Dupont, Washington with his wife, ShDonna raising 5 children, Jackson age 17, Lyric age 8, King age 4, Journey age 4, Jansen age 4 (triplets).
Finally, the Major is active in the Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc., a collegiate social organization committed to community service and achievement, WATCH D.O.G.S. (Dads of Great Students), an innovative father involvement and educational initiative of the National Center for Fathering, and The Military Intelligence Corps Association.
Major Jackson Drumgoole II is truly an All Star Dad!
2012 "All-Star" Dad - Christopher Valerian
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.