A Trusted Friend in a Complicated World

13 Heartwarming Stories of Dads Going Above and Beyond for Their Kids

Updated: May 26, 2023

These men have a powerful way of showing their love that goes further than simply saying it.

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Let’s hear it for the dads!

Having a great dad can make all the difference in a child’s life, guiding their career, building their self-esteem, teaching them valuable skills, and showing them unconditional love. We are so grateful to all the amazing dads out there, doing these things day in and day out. However, sometimes extraordinary circumstances require a father to make extraordinary choices and we’d like to commend these fathers who went far above and beyond to help their children. Find out how Father’s Day became a holiday.

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My dad turned our house into a giant board game
Courtesy Luanga Nuwame

My dad turned our house into a giant board game

Staying home in quarantine due to the novel coronavirus pandemic was important for the Nuwame family health but it was also incredibly boring, especially for 8-year-old Azura. So her father Lue suggested they play a board game—but this wasn’t going to be an ordinary game of CandyLand or Clue. He decided to turn the entire first floor of their home into a giant, modular, life-sized board game.

“We can take it apart and put it together in so many ways,” Azura says. “I get to help decide which spaces do what actions and then my dad and I race each other to see who wins. I love it when I beat him! My mom is the ref.”

This game, along with other handmade activities Lue makes exclusively out of cardboard, helps her stay healthy and entertained during the quarantine. But these games serve another purpose, helping Azura feel in control of part of her life, making the pandemic and other scary news feel less frightening and overwhelming. “I grew up as a depressed child and teen and I want to make sure that doesn’t happen to Azura,” Lue says, adding that the game gives the second-grader a chance to talk about her feelings and concerns.

It all seems to be working: “It’s so fun, I love that I get to play with my dad all day,” she says. Looking for something a little more traditional? Here are the best-rated board games to play during quarantine.

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Barry Dean and daughter, Katherine
Courtesy the Dean Family

Her dad helped create a safer wheelchair

Katherine was born with cerebral palsy, and because of it, the now 19-year old has used a wheelchair her entire life. When her dad, Barry Dean, a Grammy-nominated songwriter for A-list country artists including Tim McGraw, Carrie Underwood, and Martina McBride, became concerned about the risk of her tipping over in her wheelchair—a scarily common occurrence that by some estimates sends 30,000 people to the hospital each year, he decided to do something about it. 

A little over two years ago, he began collaborating with his brother Jered who also happens to be an engineer. “We realized no one else was working on this problem in a meaningful way so [we] set out to create a solution for Katherine,” Barry said in a press release.

“This started out as a hobby and we were hacking Katherine’s wheelchair to help her out, and the assumption was once we were done with this we would get her the real deal technology” Jered says in a video. He developed a functioning prototype that “wouldn’t let her run into things or drive off steps” and that would “let her go out in the backyard by herself and get her help when she needed it.” 

As it turned out, there wasn’t any existing technology out there. So the brothers decided to start a company to bring their invention to the public. “What started as a labor of love among family members has ultimately created a safer, more stable way for people with disabilities to navigate their world and stay connected to loved ones,” Barry said. 

The result was LUCI, a hardware and software platform that mounts onto a power wheelchair and “uses sensor-fusion technologies to allow the wheelchair to ‘see’ its environment and avoid collisions, prevent dangerous drop-offs, and provide unprecedented stability, security and cloud connectivity.” Best of all, it can be attached to a wheelchair so people don’t have to purchase a new one.

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My dad shaved his head for me
Courtesy Nate Checketts

My dad shaved his head for me

A little over a year ago Will Checketts, then seven years old, was playing with his younger brother when he hit his head. His dad, Nate Checketts, took him to the hospital to get checked out, just to be safe. But a CT scan found that what had appeared to be just a goose-egg was in fact a serious head injury; Will had suffered a skull fracture and his brain was bleeding. The doctors said the boy had mere hours to live unless he got emergency brain surgery.

Will understood that the surgery was necessary but he was understandably terrified, and he was especially concerned about having to get his head shaved. Nate assured his son that it would be OK and to prove it, he shaved his head, too.

“Seeing my dad’s bald head made me laugh and also feel a lot better about my head,” says Will, who is now eight years old and fully recovered. “Now my dad’s teaching me how to skateboard now and it’s so fun. He is my hero!”

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My father has called me every single day for 20 years
Courtesy Elena Roman

My father has called me every single day for 20 years

“My parents divorced when I was very young and I lived with my mom but my dad was determined to stay close to me,” says Elena Roman. But Robert Roman wasn’t going to settle for the occasional visit to catch up, he wanted to let his little girl know that he thought about her and loved her all the time.

“My dad has called me every single day since the day he moved out,” she says. He called daily even when she could only talk on her mom’s phone or when she was a busy teenager or when she was in college and was too busy to answer often. “I’m 24 and living on my own and my dad still calls me every day to see how I am, to check-in. Some days I’ll talk or vent to him or on days when I don’t have much to say he will read me a poem he found or tell me about a book he is reading. He is always teaching himself new things so he always has something interesting to say,” she says. “This is his way of showing me loves me and I know he’s always there for me, even if he can’t always be around physically.” For more warm fuzzies, check out these amazing dad quotes for Father’s Day.

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He stepped in as my dad when I needed one the most
Courtesy Dennis G. Wilson

He stepped in as my dad when I needed one the most

“Growing up, I was an immature, angry kid with no father, that is until I met Dennis Wilson,” says Davidson Hosty. Wilson coached Hosty’s varsity high school basketball team but he says he was so much more than a coach, acting as a mentor and father figure to many of the boys. This included being tough when they needed it.

“I remember one practice, I mouthed off and he told me I could leave if I didn’t like what he was saying. I threw my jersey down and stormed out,” he says. “The next day, once I’d calmed down, he taught me that it’s a good thing for men to have emotions and express them but that I couldn’t let them control me. That was a real turning point for me.”

Wilson stayed a part of his life long after Hosty graduated from high school, encouraging and supporting him through earning both a Bachelor’s and a Master’s degree from Salem State and then getting his dream job in academics. “Coach Wilson still calls and checks in on me all the time, he has been instrumental in everything I’ve accomplished,” he says. “Even though we may not share blood, he is a father to me. He calls me his son and I consider it a great honor to be his son.”

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My husband is finding a cure for our daughters' life-threatening disease
Courtesy Firefly Fund

My husband is finding a cure for our daughters’ life-threatening disease

Pam and Chris Andrews noticed their oldest daughter Belle wasn’t developing normally when she was just three years old. After two years of tests and specialists, she was finally diagnosed with Niemann-Pick Disease Type C, an extremely rare, progressive, and ultimately fatal genetic disorder. Additional testing discovered that Belle’s two-year-old sister, Abby, also had the disorder.

“While we were trying to process all this, Chris decided he was going to do whatever it took to find a cure for our girls, even if it takes the rest of his life,” Pam says. “He told me, ‘We don’t have control over the fact that both of our children have NPC, but we do have control over what we choose to do about it now’.”

The pair started the Firefly Fund, a non-profit dedicated to raising awareness and funds for research for the rare disorder. “He has loved the girls from the second he first held them after they were born and they mean everything to him,” she says. “This foundation, and finding a cure for them, has become his life’s calling.”

“This year Abby’s birthday falls on the same day as Father’s Day and having her, and Belle, still with us is the best gift I could get,” he says.

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My father bought my dream wedding ring
Courtesy Michelle Hill

My father bought my dream wedding ring

Michelle Reynolds and Cameron Hill were high school sweethearts and even when Cameron left to serve a two-year mission for his church, the pair stayed in touch, planning to reunite when he returned. Before he left they’d discussed getting married in the future and Michelle even found her perfect ring—a yellow gold band with an emerald cut diamond, surrounded by three prongs of tiny diamonds. “I absolutely fell in love with this ring, it just sparkled. Like I was obsessed with it. I would go into the store every week to check if it was still there. I did this for months until one day it was gone. I was so devastated,” she says.

She forgot about her dream ring until several years later when Cameron proposed. “I was so shocked when he proposed with that exact ring,” she says. It turns out that her father, Bob Reynolds, had seen how much she loved it and bought it for her, saving it for a future day when he could give it to her future husband. “We of course paid my dad back, and I love it that much more now because it reminds me how much both of the men in my life love me!” she says.

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My papa learned to sew to make me a traditional dress
Courtesy Oscar Tuch

My papa learned to sew to make me a traditional dress

Diego Ramírez lives in the southwestern highlands of Guatemala with his three daughters, María, 16, and 14-year-old twins Juana and Ana. He’s been raising his daughters alone for ten years and while he’s able to provide for all their physical needs, he still worries they will suffer without their mom—which is why you’ll often find him embroidering late into the evening after his work and chores are done. In their Mayan culture, it is traditional for a mother to make her daughter a “huipil,” a special blouse that she covers in intricate, beaded, and brightly colored embroidery of birds and flowers.

“The huipil is a big part of a young woman’s identity and they each have traditional cloth colors and have unique patterns of tiny figures,” his daughter says. “Each one is unique and has a meaning that is often related to protection or survival.” Diego taught himself the technique and patterns, with each blouse taking him over 20 hours of careful stitching to finish. Some men in the community even make fun of him because they consider this to be out of step with macho culture but he doesn’t listen to them, she says.

Working with Unbound, a non-profit organization that helps children escape poverty, he’s also helped his daughters get sponsors to help them get a better education. “It’s all worth it to see their happiness and to help them get more opportunities than I had,” he says.

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My dad took me to my first Pride Parade
Courtesy Taylor Linloff

My dad took me to my first Pride Parade

“I grew up in a rural area where being queer or disabled isn’t really talked about and there’s a lot of stereotypes and stigma around both, so I was quite nervous to come out as queer and share my autism diagnosis,” says Taylor Linloff. But she needn’t have worried as her dad, Conrad Linloff, had her back 100 percent.

Not only was he not upset but he decided to take her to her first Pride Parade, in Halifax. “He took time off work and made a vacation out of it even though he never really liked parades or big gatherings like that. He said he was the proudest father in the world to be there with me,” she says. In addition, he donated a portion of all his paychecks that year to Nova Scotia’s “Youth Project,” a nonprofit for LGBTQ youth. He was equally as accepting of her autism, she says.

Sadly, Conrad lost his battle with cancer at the beginning of this year and this month Taylor will have to celebrate her first Father’s Day and his birthday without him. “My dad was my rock. His unconditional love and support has meant everything to me and he continues to be a big part of who I am today,” she says. Do you know these traits you inherit from your father?

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My dad saved my science fair project
Courtesy Mary Dow

My dad saved my science fair project

Like so many kids do, Mary Dow had forgotten about her fourth-grade science fair project until the night before it was due. She frantically ran to her father, John Harold, and told him tearfully she needed to come up with a whole research project on evergreen trees…in less than 24 hours. “Instead of getting mad at me he just went down to the basement, grabbed his saw, and we headed up the canyon,” she says.

He helped her cut branches from all of the different types of local evergreen trees, research and type up a paragraph about each species, and then display everything on a poster board, even adding some of her mom’s Christmas tree decorations for flair. He then sat with her as she typed up her report and proof-read it for her.

“The next morning he threw everything into the back of his truck bright and early and hauled it all to school for me, helping me set it up just in time for my science fair,” she says. “Not only did I have my project finished but I had the most impressive display in the gym, by far. All thanks to my dad who went so above and beyond for his super stressed out, procrastinating daughter.” If you live near your dad, try one of these 17 Father’s Day activities he’s sure to love.

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My father planted a vegetable garden for me
Courtesy Vincent Zurzolo

My father planted a vegetable garden for me

“My father and mother immigrated to the United States and my dad worked three jobs to make ends meet. He did all of it to give me a better life but because he worked so much I didn’t have much of a relationship with him as a kid,” says Vincent Zurzolo. “I knew he loved me because he supported me but we didn’t talk about it.”

Then, one spring seven years ago, his father showed up at his home with a variety of plants and told him he wanted to plant a vegetable garden with him. Gardening is a passion for the elder Zurzolo and he was eager to share his skills with his son, along with ensuring they had a good supply of healthy food. “And he’s done it every spring since then. Gardening is back-breaking work and he’s 90 years old but he insists,” he says.

This spring was the first year they couldn’t continue the tradition, because of the coronavirus pandemic, so Vincent and his wife planted the vegetable garden and told him all about it. “He was so happy to hear it. I realized that instead of just telling me he loved me, this garden is his way of showing it,” he says. “I was truly touched and I can’t wait until next summer when we can continue our tradition.” If you don’t live near your dad, send him one of these 25 Father’s Day gifts you can have delivered.

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My dad was my "bike chauffeur"
Courtesy Brett Downes

My dad was my “bike chauffeur”

“My dad worked in a dye factory as a machine setter so we didn’t have a lot of money growing up. We didn’t own a car and me and my brother used to walk everywhere with my dad, for miles and miles,” says Brett Downes.

But his dad, Brian Downes, had a passion for bikes, a talent for engineering, and a very creative mind. He came up with his own design and built a custom bike with two extra seats, one on the front, and one on the back. “He used to take us everywhere on that bike. There was a super steep hill near my house, and every day he would have to climb up it, carrying both my brother and I. He was so strong, it appeared effortless to me at the time, but now I realize how much work and effort it must have taken him to do that day in and day out.”

Brian also made it so fun that Brett never felt like they were missing out. “We just thought it was great, having our own personal bike chauffeur,” he says.

Eventually, Brett got big enough to ride a bike on his own but all those long walks and rides cemented a close lifelong bond between him and his dad. “I live ten miles away from my dad and I still see him at least once a week,” he says.

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My husband is helping our son finish college online
Courtesy Megan Hall

My husband is helping our son finish college online

Thanks to the coronavirus pandemic, Thomas Hall found himself trying to balance a full-time job and a full load of university classes—that had all moved online. Without the in-class instruction, he was struggling to understand some of the more complex concepts. That’s when his dad, Spencer, jumped in to help. And this isn’t just spending an hour or two at the table helping his son with homework.

“My husband has been spending so much time helping our oldest with his university studies that his boss is allowing him to count it as training,” says Megan Hall. Advanced Excel programming was a subject Spencer had always wanted to learn so he has been teaching it to himself at night so he can be both a study partner and teacher for Thomas.

“His day starts when Thomas’ does, at 5 a.m., his devotion is inspiring and exhausting,” Megan adds. Watch one of these 10 movies that will tug a dad’s heartstrings—and yours—on Father’s Day.