TOMMY Connolly was in many ways just like any other 23-year-old young man. He was attending school at the University of the Sunshine Coast in Queensland, Australia, he had a part-time job as a real estate agent, and had lots of great friends and family.
Apart from being a student and having a robust social life, Tommy was also an accomplished athlete, and his coaches saw great potential in him, so much so that he was on track to compete internationally.
But little did he know that his track career would be soon be put on hold by something totally unexpected.
Tommy was an energetic 23-year-old that would soon need that energy to raise his grandson. But just how did he become a grandfather at 23?
Tommy studied business and economics in college and had dreams of one day opening his own business. Unlike many other people his age, he was good at managing his money and managed to save a substantial amount.
Tommy pushed himself, both academically and physically to work toward his goal. By all means, he was an inspiration. But the road was just getting started, and it would be a bumpy one.
One day, out of the blue, Tommy received a Facebook message from a cousin that he had lost contact with ever since her family moved away to a town called Southport. They hadn’t spoken in around a decade but what he heard from her was shocking.
“I was really excited to hear from her because I’ve always had a soft spot for her. She was my favourite little cousin, she was the sweetest girl and we got along so well,” Tommy said. The two were very close growing up.
Tommy’s cousin, Kiarna, was only 16 at the time she contacted Tommy. But just a few messages into the conversation he understood that something was terribly wrong.
Apparently, Kiarna had experienced a very rough life since they last saw each other and she was struggling to survive. “She was homeless, no shoes, no phone, with less than a backpack full of clothes,” Tommy said. And it wasn’t only Kiarna that was in terrible danger.
She had been sleeping outside in the Gold Coast area with nothing. Her boyfriend was in jail, leaving her hopelessly alone to deal with everything that her cruel life threw at her. As a homeless minor, her fate was uncertain.
Tommy immediately knew that he had to do something to help Kiarna, even if it came at his own personal sacrifice.
What he originally thought would be a joyous reunion, turned into the exact opposite.
When Kiarna arrived, she was alone and illiterate. Tommy was determined to change all of that. What he did next would shock everyone, but what Tommy didn’t know was that Kiarna had a secret that she had been keeping to herself out of fear.
Kiarna had had a tough life, and Tommy decided that all that was going to end with him, so he offered to be her permanent guardian.
Tommy was going to make sure that she was healthy and get her back to school to learn how to read and write.
The secret that Kiarna had been hiding was the fact that she was 23 weeks pregnant. She was terrified that the revelation would cause Tommy to hesitate to assist her, but according to him, family is family and he wasn’t about to abandon her.
Tommy was still going ahead with his plan to gain permanent custody over Kiarna. Not only was she in jeopardy, so was the fate of her unborn baby.
“Since carrying this gorgeous boy, all of my friends kept telling me that he would be taken away from me. This made my pregnancy very difficult. All I wanted was to give this little boy a better life than I had – a second chance was all I wanted,” Kiarna said.
With the baby arriving shortly, Tommy was in a race against time to make sure that all the legal documents were filed so he could be Kiarna’s legal guardian.
Unfortunately, their first attempt to file the paperwork failed, and they were told that Tommy did not qualify to be a foster parent. After seeking legal advise, Tommy found ways around the legal obstacles and did everything in his power to make sure that Kiarna would be taken care of.
As a result, Tommy even stopped training for his track and field competitions.
And then the good news came, that permanent custody was granted, making Tommy the youngest grandfather in the world.