More than 20 readers shared with NWI Communities details about why their dads are simply the best, and we have to agree. These local dads sound like amazing folks!
Sadly we could only choose one winner for the NWI Communities Father's Day Contest. So read on for the winning essay followed by a couple favorite entries:
Father's Day Contest Winner: Alan Bayless (submitted by daughter Amanda Bucsko)
Sometimes being a hero, doesn’t necessarily mean that you saved someone else, sometimes it means saving yourself so that you may live for others. My dad did just that. Twenty-seven years ago, my dad gave up his drug and alcohol addiction so that he could live for his family. As many people know, being an addict is a very complex thing. It’s not something that is just easy to walk away from. That’s why it’s called addiction. Addiction literally means the state of being enslaved to or dependent on something. On May 20, 1986, I was born with the umbilical cord wrapped around my neck. At that time the hospital I was born in did not have a NICU so I had to be rushed to another local hospital away from my mother. The only person who could visit me was my father. Somewhere in those moments, my dad decided that he needed to change his life and get sober. It wasn’t an immediate change, but it did happen. March of 1987, my dad started his sobriety and has been going strong for 27 years. He gave his life to God and for that I will be forever grateful. In addition to giving up his life, he also saved mine. If it wasn’t for him, I may not be here today. On a family vacation to Florida in 1997, we were swimming in the hotel pool when I started to drown. Thankfully, my dad was there to save me. He is the most selfless man I have ever known. Having four daughters, he has managed to be at almost every sporting event, school program, awards ceremony, etc. He has continued to do so for his eight grandchildren. It doesn’t matter how bad of a day he had at work, or how busy he might be, he finds the time, still, for his children and grandchildren. Even now that all of us girls are adults, if we have a car problem, a house problem, or even a money problem, we know that we can always count on Dad to be there. He has been our biggest cheerleader in everything that we do and he has been a great comfort through our mistakes. He has been my teacher, my coach, my counselor, my role model, my dad, my hero. His story is truly amazing to me, from an addict to an Elder at our church. Thanks dad, for everything that you do. I love you!
Runner Up: Howard W. Popp (submitted by daughter Donna Seeley and grandson Alek Seeley)
I just recently found out why my dad is amazing. Through my son, we have learned of some of the tales that he lived through in World War II. I always knew he fought in World War II, but as a kid I never really thought it was a big deal. A couple times I did ask what he did, or where he fought and he would just say he really didn’t need to talk about it.
Well, my mom passed away back in 1995. She passed about 5 months before I had my son. Alek and my dad are very close. Alek’s dad hasn’t been a part of his life and my dad has kind of been the male figure in Alek’s life.
As my dad has gotten older, Alek has become more than just my dad’s buddy. He has been the guy who helps him with his house, mows his lawns, shovels his walks, etc.
During that time my dad has opened up to my son about some of these tales. Such as he was a minesweeper and received a meritorious award for his “disregard for his personal safety, continued installation of vital communications through many minefields in the dead of night.” He lost all of his medals and I am in the process of trying to see if we can find out what he was awarded and if we can get these back for him. We know he was awarded a Purple Heart.
Each time Alek goes over there I learn a little more. He is 89 now… born the day after D-Day. June 7, 1925. It’s amazing he did that, and survived and still survives on his own after these many, many years.
Runner Up: Ramond Santana Sr. (submitted by son Christopher Santana)
I am writing on behalf of my brothers Ramon Santana Jr., Armando, Sonny, my late sister Florinda and myself of the great man we call Dad, Raymond Santana Sr. He was born in Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas Mexico, March 1943 and migrated to East Chicago with my grandparents, Margaret and Ignacio Santana in 1950 when Inland Steel transported workers by bus from the border town of Laredo, TX to work in their mills. My father adjusted and embraced American life quickly. He is the eldest of his fifteen siblings.
There are multiple reasons why our father is our hero but none sticks out to me more than being the man he is that he helped raise his younger siblings after the passing of my grandfather of the young age of 55, leaving behind my grandmother with so many children. A devastating blow to the family indeed. My father began working in the mills immediately after graduating from Washington High School in 1961 to support the family. He is a very proud Washington Senator who always supported their championship basketball teams. He is a die-hard Bears, Bulls, Cubs, and Blackhawks fan.
Before my grandfathers passing and their final move to East Chicago, the entire family, as they grew, would travel from south Texas and as far north as Minnesota to work on the farms picking fruits and vegetables and then making their way back south for the winter months. At a young age, my father was taught to work a labor-intensive job, drive farm equipment and a stick-shift truck. This was backbreaking work but they sacrificed to support the growing family.
Winters were harsh for the family and they would find themselves returning to Texas various times before they finally settled in the Harbor section of East Chicago and called it home. The family also endured the loss of their home on Butternut Ave. due to a fire. Through thick and thin, the family pushed forward with my father leading the way. He always set the example for us through his dedicated work ethic and family values. He enjoys his hobbies of painting and amateur photography.
My parents met in Nuevo Laredo, he married my mother, Carmen (Tovar) Santana in May 1969 and have enjoyed forty-five years of marriage.
To conclude, our father is our hero because he has set the example for what it is to be a real father, husband, brother, friend and grandfather. We learn from him daily and it is a true blessing to have him with us and call him Dad. Thank you for your time and consideration.