June 21, 2014

Celebration of Dads draws tears, cheers at Mellis Park

Fathers take a bow at the annual Celebration of Dads, including Sam Garrett, who took on the job at 15.

Becoming a father at 15, raising a son while still growing up himself, was not the easy path. But it was the road Sam Garrett chose. And at the Celebration of Dads on Saturday, his son, now 24, stood up to thank him.

“Knowing I had a father there made it so much easier,” said Brandon Garrett from the Mellis Park stage as his father wiped away tears slipping out from behind his sunglasses. When he has his own kids, the younger Garrett said, “I just hope to be half the man he is.”

Brandon Garrett surprised his father with the honor at the celebration, put on by the Community Action Coalition of Stanislaus County and the Boys & Girls Clubs of Stanislaus County as a prelude to Juneteenth ceremonies.

Dad said he was “pretty choked up” through it all. Sitting later with wife, Micaella, and their sons, Lincoln, 4, and London, 2, Sam Garrett said his mother had been a rock through the early years with Brandon.

“We grew up as friends, because the ages were so close,” Sam Garrett said. “I was the youngest dad. Now I’m the oldest dad,” he added with a chuckle.

The Garretts’ story launched the eighth annual Celebration of Dads, this year cheering 13 fathers for the roles they play each day in their children’s lives. Most were nominated by children in the Boys & Girls Club program.

“It is amazing what a ‘Thank you,’ ‘I love you’ – nice words – can do to a man,” master of ceremonies Jeremiah Williams said.

“He helps me anywhere and he protects me,” were the nice words of Marrick Pandey, 9, who nominated his dad, Maheshwor Pandey.

Jonathan Silva, 12, told of learning how to run a business from his stay-at-home dad. Father Donald Davis runs an online business and cares for his four children, ages 12 years to 7 months old.

Pindaro Hurtado was nominated for the stories he tells sons Aiden and Christian Hurtado, 7 and 9, while they get ready for school.

“I ask them, ‘Do you want to be a donkey or a doctor?’ If they decide to be a burro, they’ll have always hard work, or be smart and stay in school and be a doctor,” Hurtado said.

Danielle Vu, 9, said her dad, Daniel Vu, works very hard “but always makes time for me.” She added, “I’m proud to say, me and my sister (Deanna, 7) are daddy’s girls.”

Brennen Brouillette, 7, said simply, “He is the best dad.” The moment was especially touching for Brentwood police officer Mitch Brouillette, he said, because he grew up without a father in Miami.

“Going to the Boys & Girls Club, that was my safe place,” he said.

Other fathers honored Saturday were Paul Schmaning, Michael Armesto, Dean Bartlett, Jason Armstrong, Shawn Rollarson, Hermes Yago and Benjamin Rodriguez.

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