August is our busy birthday month. First comes my son, Aaron’s birthday, then our foster daughter, Donna Paluch, and finally my birthday. I’m 28 days older than Larry and he reminds me often during the month of August. I remind him that he looks much older—too bad guys generally don’t wear make-up—at least not Larry unless it’s Halloween or he wants to fit in with my tribe of girlfriends. But while Donna was living with us for three years during high school, she entered a contest describing why her foster father should be given the award of Father-of-the Year. I opened up an unread book we have had on our shelf named The Heart of a Father and found this letter in it. See what she said below.
For years I have been a foster child. I have never known the love a father and daughter share. There was no one to help me with school; there was no one to help me at all. As a child, I had no one to look up to. I had no one to call dad. I have a dad now. He is the most giving and compassionate man I know. He took in a girl who had no where to go. Not only was she a stranger, she was a stronger with a past. She was me. He has stood with me through moments of hell. We have climbed mountains together the last two years. He gave a girl on the brink of death a chance to experience life. He is an example for all people—-a member of big brother, big sister, an activist for the homeless, an activist for me. I call him Dad.
She won the award and a limousine picked her and Larry up and took them to the Oprah show. She was then on Channel 9 sharing her story and received free tickets for all of us to a Cub’s game.
Before we picked up Donna, she had attempted suicide by taking tylenol tablets. The hospital pumped her stomach and saved her. The three teenage years we had her were turbulent but we knew there was a gem within her. She was smart and tenacious. Today she is a lawyer living in Louisiana with her husband and three children.
God has saved her and used her as a public defender to help those with no hope. There were days during her times of fighting drug abuse that I thought there was no hope. She was hospitalized for a period of time and was strong enough to cut off unhealthy relationships. Donna read 45 books—mostly classics that summer and played basketball with me. She had the advantage being a lot taller than my 5 ft. frame. We are proud of the woman she has become. Happy Birthday Donna.