Sky-high swing pushes. Classic rock Pandora stations. Parallel parking tips. There are many tricks in a father’s toolkit that can help you achieve “Cool Dad” status. But when a kid is stuck in the hospital for months, bound to a wheelchair or experiencing a type of pain you’ve been blessed to never know, something happens to that toolkit. Nothing is off limits, and creativity surges.
As a father of three who’s tackled more science fair projects, school field trips and wedding-planning conversations than I can count, I’m amazed by how our patients’ dads go above and beyond for their kids. Nothing is off limits for these guys, and their actions become hospital lore that we talk about for years.
As we gear up for Father’s Day, here are 10 dads and granddads who provided their kids with a kind of medicine you won’t find in any pharmacy.
1. When a curve in Mason’s spine required him to wear a semi-permanent body cast, his dad turned a cumbersome mold into a “castume.” And instantly made Mason the most popular kid on any playground.
2. With his wife battling breast cancer and his daughter’s kidneys quickly failing, Belle’s dad donated a life-saving kidney to his daughter.
3. After an intoxicated driver’s reckless actions took away Owen’s ability to move his arms and legs, his dad transformed his wheelchair into Indiana Jones’s Jeep for the ultimate Halloween costume.
4. When Vanessa asked for permission to dye her hair blue before she lost it to chemotherapy, not only did her dad say yes—he went blue, too.
5. A brain tumor altered Chip’s mobility but not his passion for the outdoors. To help Chip stay competitive with his brothers during tournaments and hunting trips, Chip’s dad modified his wheelchair to make it suitable for boats, trails and marshlands.
6. After Lana beat stage four cancer at the age of 3, her dad—with support from his bandmates in the popular rock band Blackberry Smoke—hosted meet and greets with fans and raised more than $30,000 “to support the innocent children we got to know during our stay at Children’s.”
7. Dr. Roy Sanders, a child psychologist, had been working with children diagnosed with autism for many years before his own son, Frankie, was diagnosed at 15 months old. To help kids like Frankie, their parents and the medical professionals who care for them, Dr. Sanders committed his life to caring for families affected by autism and published a book that blends his medical expertise with firsthand experience.
8. When Kevin was born with life-threatening biliary atresia, his dad moved his family–including his wife and two other children–from Hawaii to Atlanta so that Kevin could receive treatment from our liver transplant team.
9. Ten-month-old Russell Jr. (“R.J.”) is battling liver cancer. To get to the hospital for R.J.’s chemotherapy infusions, father and son take a train, a bus and a shuttle. Along the way, R.J. naps and takes in views of the Atlanta skyline from the comfort of his dad’s chest.
10. While visiting his cancer-fighting granddaughter, Grandpa Roger noticed several families having difficulty transporting their child—and his or her medical equipment—through our hospitals. So Roger enlisted help from several local organizations to create a device that safely connects I.V. poles to red wagons for in-hospital transport. But he didn’t stop there; he also coordinated a donation of more than 40 brand new Radio Flyer wagons.
Know another Children’s dad or granddad fit for this list? Tell us about him in the comments thread below. Happy Father’s Day!