A devoted father responded to the call for help at his local school district in San Diego, California. Rick Daynes, whose 10-year-old son Eli is on the autism spectrum, decided to secretly train as a school bus driver to surprise his son on his very first bus route.
The Poway Unified School District was facing a shortage of bus drivers, and they reached out to the community for assistance. Daynes, whose own children attend school in the district, including Eli, stepped up to the challenge.
He noticed that the bus often arrived late due to the shortage, causing delays of over an hour. Determined to make a difference, Daynes took on the role of a school bus driver in addition to his full-time job and family responsibilities.
The opportunity seemed perfectly suited to his schedule, as the morning shift from 6 a.m. to 9 a.m. aligned well with his existing commitments. Although driving a school bus wasn't initially on his list of things to do, Daynes embraced the opportunity wholeheartedly and never looked back.
But the real surprise was yet to come. Unbeknownst to Eli, his father had secretly undergone training to become a school bus driver. Daynes hoped to drive Eli's bus route, but it had already been assigned to another driver. However, fate intervened when the original driver decided to switch to a different route, creating an opening for Daynes.
On May 3, the eagerly awaited day arrived. Eli approached the bus with anticipation, only to be greeted by an incredible sight: his own father behind the wheel. Overwhelmed with joy, Eli rushed into his dad's arms, exclaiming, "Hi, Daddy!" The heartfelt reunion captured the hearts of people across the nation, including David Muir, anchor of "World News Tonight."
With the school year now over and summer on the horizon, Muir caught up with Daynes and Eli as they enjoyed a beach vacation in San Diego. Daynes shared his excitement about spending quality time with his son, saying, "Today is our first day of summer with no school, so we're hitting the beach." Their bonding time continued until Eli's summer school started, when Daynes would resume his role as his son's dedicated bus driver.
Daynes had an inspiring message for those moved by his story: "If you see something in your community that needs to be done, helping your neighbor, maybe even driving the local school bus—go out there and get it done."
Fathers are so important in a young kid's life. This story serves as a reminder of the extraordinary lengths parents will go to ensure their children's happiness.