WILLMAN: On Father's Day, it's important to recognize a dad who did the right thing

Al Willman

“OK, dad. Here he comes.”

You might recognize those words from my column almost eight months ago — from the day my son was born.

Then, those words signaled Wyatt’s arrival. Now, I find myself recalling them almost daily, as he continues to pile on milestone after milestone.

Where has the time gone?

But, today, as we celebrate Father’s Day — some, like me, for the first time; while others from No. 2 and beyond continue their annual reminders of what I believe firmly is the greatest job in the world — I want to bring attention to a dad who I think is the perfect personification of what we should all strive for, but hopefully never find ourselves in the situation this dad is in.

Nick Buckley is a sports reporter for the Battle Creek Enquirer in southwest Michigan. He and his wife, Alexis, have a daughter — Charlie, 8.

Three years ago, Charlie was diagnosed with nephrotic syndrome and focal segmental glomerulosclerosis — F.S.G.S. for short — a rare disease that attacks the part of the kidneys that acts as its filter, which leads to scarring and permanent damage to the organ.

The disease, for which there currently is no cure, impacts roughly 5,400 patients a year.

Last year, the Buckleys reached a crossroads. Charlie’s kidneys were shutting down and she needed dialysis to keep them functional. Charlie also, as it would turn out, needed a kidney transplant.

While both parents were matches, it was Nick who eventually donated his left kidney to his daughter.

“To me, the decision to donate a kidney to Charlie was no decision at all,” Nick wrote last week in a column for the Enquirer. “As a father, my duty is to keep my children happy, healthy and safe and to prepare them for a big world.

“Like most parents, I'd do anything for my kids. This was an opportunity to put that feeling into action.”

Charlie is, now, on the mend after having transplant surgery in May. Nick is recovering, too.

It’s a familiar story from a family a little closer to home — the Asher family — that I wrote about last fall and again early this year.

You might recall it. Tyson Asher, a former boys' soccer player at McCracken County, was stricken with a rare kidney disorder that, eventually, required him to have a transplant. The kidney in that story came from his mom, Jenny Asher.

What Nick Buckley and Jenny Asher taught us all — not just those of us who are parents — is that selfless, unconditional love is and should be the norm, but especially when it comes to our children.

I know when Wyatt was born, I learned what that love — which, believe me, is different than any love I’d ever felt before — feels like, and I pray my son and my family never has to endure the pain and fear that comes when an illness this severe strikes without warning, but if it does, I know I have parents like the Buckleys and the Ashers to look to as role models, ones who did the right thing — the only thing — when the time came.

Happy Father’s Day, fellow dads.

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