Parents will do almost anything for their children. They will take an extra shift or, if they’re tech-savvy, defend their kids on social media. Dad-of-five Fred Vautour set the ultimate standard, working 23 years as a graveyard shift janitor at Boston College to send his kids to school.
“I came from a poor family and kind of a broken home and I was kind of on my own,” Fred Vautour explained. “I did my best to be a father and a family man.”
Boston College, which provides benefits for its staff, granted all five of Vautour’s children a place in the school. While Vautour was able to save $700,000 in tuition, his greatest pride was watching each of them graduate.
“I want to be remembered as the grandkids knowing that their grandfather did a lot for my own,” he said. “And my kids are learning from that and they seem to be doing well with their kids, too, so it’s a trickle-down effect.”
Vautour has expressed his gratitude and still works at the university, however bittersweet. The hardworking dad has proved that status isn’t everything. Sometimes, being a good parent is enough.
I believe it’s in anyone’s nature to be kind — even when it means putting others first. Among our everyday heroes is Clayton Cook, who, on his wedding day, dove into a river to save a drowning boy. (It’s safe to say he was overdressed for the occasion) Alongside him is Kimberly Gager, who gave up her entire coupon collection to donate supplies to hurricane victims. And as if people hadn’t impressed me enough, Cullman resident Eric Gilbreath drove 2 hours out of town to rescue a missing child.
“Your heart just falls out on the floor. My first thought was helping getting out there and looking. I wasn’t going to give up,” Gilbreath explained.
The toddler, 3-year-old Serenity Dawn Sanders, shares a mother with Gilbreath’s son. Despite the presence of a search party, Gilbreath was the first to spot Serenity in the woods of Dekalb County.
“I just walked the ridge top, walked halfway down the ridge and walked the bottom of the ridge and went to the next one,” Gilbreath said.
Serenity was accompanied by her dog. Just as any father would, Gilbreath reminded the unfazed child not to wander without her mother. That’s at least 10 dad points to Gilbreath!
When unlikely pairs come together, the results are often a pleasant surprise. Just as the crafstpeople of Peitian didn’t expect to collaborate with Hong Kong students on a building project, this kindergartener didn’t expect a police escort on his first day of school.
Kevin Will Jr., never got the chance to meet his father, so on Tuesday morning, Houston Police Officers honored their friend and and fellow officer, and escorted the 5-year old kindergarten student from his home in the Wildwood at Oakcrest Subdivision to Wildwood Elementary in Tomball ISD.
Will Sr. was killed by a drunk driver in 2011. At the time, Will’s wife Alicia was pregnant with Will Jr. Years later, on behalf of their fallen friend, some 100 police officers walked Will Jr. to school.
“We always touch base with the families who’ve lost loved ones in the line of duty and make sure [they know] we are there for them, whatever they need. In this case, it was just moral support on his first day of school,” [said officer Joe Gramaldi]
I’m not crying. You’re crying. The fact of the matter is, family exists beyond blood. Kevin Will Jr. may not have met his biological father, but has a handful of surrogate dads to count on.
Some people refuse to let their hindrances get the best of them. Figures like Joseph Hale, a child model with Down’s syndrome, are replacing “normal” with “unique.” Now, blind triplets Nick, Leo, and Steven Cantos have done the same, earning ranks as Eagle Scouts. And it’s all thanks to their adoptive father.
“Having the boys in my life has been nothing short of a series of miracles day after day after day from the very day that they came into my life,” [said Ollie Cantos]. “Life has just never been the same.”
Dad Ollie, also blind, adopted the talented threesome when they were eleven-years-old. In teaching his boys to navigate through daily life, Ollie encouraged them to sign up as Boy Scouts. Without special considerations, each sibling earned 21 merit badges.
“I’ve always seen myself as the person who just happens to be blind. For me, I just happen to have a disability. It’s not the defining factor of my life. I made it the same way as other Eagle Scouts,” Steven Cantos said. “Everyone has difficulties in their lives. We all have trials. That’s how life is.”
Blind, deaf, mute, or what-have-you, clearly, anything is possible. All it takes is a push.