There's no shortage of interesting content on the internet. From the star-studded lives of socialities to security camera footage of haunted elementary schools, there’s plenty to read, watch, and endlessly comment on.
But every once in a blue moon, a truly special story comes along that has the power to allow a person to see their own life from a different perspective — and change them in the process. This is one of those awesome tales!
Tommy Connolly was just a regular college student. He spent long hours at the library, hung out with his buddies when he could, and had a part-time job at a grocery store.
"When I wasn’t busy with school work, I was training," said the all-star sprinter. "Training, training, training — that was my motto!"
The 23-year-old's life at the University of the Sunshine Coast in Queensland, Australia, was the picture of perfection. As far as he and anyone else knew, things would always be that way. But as John Lennon once famously remarked, "Life is what happens while you're busy making other plans."
One day, Tommy unexpectedly received a message on Facebook that changed his life forever.
Once that message began to spread beyond the bounds of Tommy's page, people from all over the world were moved to help him and his family in their most desperate hour.
In just 18 days, the Connollys have raised over $50,000 from people from all different walks of life, mostly just a few dollars at a time.
Of course, no one could imagine how on Earth a 23-year-old college kid could become a grandfather...
Tommy was the star of his university's track and field team, but his athletic ability was truly something special.
"This is Olympic-level talent we're talking about here," said Tommy's coach Owen Wallace. "You don't see many like this in your entire career. The kid has it."
His goal was to compete in the national championship, eventually qualifying for the international level and beyond. No one expected his athletic dreams to suddenly derail — and for Tommy to be so happy about it.
Tommy was always looking for the next great adventure. From hiking in the foothills to river-rafting and rock-climbing, he was into anything with an adrenaline rush. Fortunately, Australia has plenty of challenges for a young man with a thirst for adventure.
When he wasn't pushing his body to its limits, Tommy liked to explore and travel abroad. Just when he and his "mates" had saved enough money to take a short trip to the United States, he discovered that he had a baby to take care of.
As you might image, Tommy is a good-looking young man and he has a girlfriend named Olivia Tauro. She's a track-and-field star like her boyfriend and they had been friends for 8 years before he first asked her out.
"Just don't call me a grandma," said Olivia. "I was just as shocked to learn about Tommy's situation as anyone else."
She was totally surprised when she learned that she was dating a father and a grandfather, which made her question every aspect of their relationship...
When Tommy was a little boy, he had a cousin named Kiarna, who is now 17.
"We were like two peas in a pod," said Tommy. "But as time passed, we grew apart and Kiarna was now living in Southport. We hadn't spoken in ten years."
Then, out of the blue, she reached out to him and gave Tommy some startling news.
Tommy learned that Kiarna's parents couldn't care for her, and after years of an unstable home life, she was now living on the streets. To survive, Kiarna resorted to petty crimes and drugs to dull the pain.
"She couldn't read either because she'd been expelled from school back in 2011," Tommy added. "I knew that I had to do something. I just wasn't sure what."
Kiarna didn't have to ask for help. She was family, and Tommy knew that he wanted to lend her a hand. In fact, he felt horrible that his favorite cousin had endured so much, while he was enjoying school and his budding athletic career.
Tommy decided to invite Kiarna to live with him, but she needed more than just a roof over her head and food in her stomach. That's when he made an incredible choice that altered both of their lives in ways neither of them could have foreseen.
Although they were blood-related, Tommy chose to become Kiarna's legal guardian and adopt her.
"This essentially turned me into her father," he said. "This was a huge responsibility and I didn't take it lightly. I knew what I was getting myself into."
Since returning to school, Kiarna's reading and writing skills had improved to the point that she was making decent grades. More importantly, she was free of all the drama and drugs.
But then, Tommy and Kiarna's lives got turned upside down one more time...
One day, Kiarna confessed to Tommy that she was pregnant with her jailbird boyfriend's baby. At first, she was terrified that her child would be taken away by the authorities.
"I would have been an unfit mother, living on streets, committing crimes," she said. "But all that was behind me now. I was really afraid that when he knew the truth, Tommy would just abandon me like everyone else."
But Tommy was true to his word and stuck by his new charge. He was legally Kiarna's dad and about to become the world's youngest grandfather at the ripe age of just 23.
It was literally three days between Kiarna's legal adoption paperwork becoming finalized and the birth of her baby boy Kaydan.
"I was in the delivery room and filmed the entire thing," Tommy said. "I even cut the cord."
Despite the fact that he didn't have any biological children of his own, he quickly took to his new role as dad and grandad.
Tommy stayed in school and continued to train in track and field, but he also got a second job selling farmer's produce.
"I basically did anything I could do to make extra money," he said. "I mean anything. I picked up dog poop, I cleaned out garages. You would be surprised what people will pay you for."
Despite the extra responsibility, Tommy gives Kiarna all the credit for "making it work," though.
But there was one thing that everyone on Facebook really wanted to know: just how did Olivia feel about all of this?
Most girlfriends would bail after learning their boyfriend was a grandfather, but Olivia knew "exactly what kind of guy she had."
Aside from planning a real future with Tommy, Olivia also helps Kiarna look after Kaydan. And even though some might shake their heads at the unusual family dynamics, it's hard to blame anyone for falling in love with a kid like Kaydan.
"He's got something of his grandpa's charm," said Olivia. "That's for sure."
Now that Tommy had the weight of the world on his shoulders, his brother set up a GoFundMe account.
"We didn't really think much about it, honestly," said Daniel Connolly. "It was something off-handed that I did."
It didn't take long for the story to start making the rounds on the internet, and that's when the money began rolling in. While the target was $50,000, the words of encouragement "were absolutely the best part."
In less than a month's time, the little family hit their goal and they "couldn't be more thankful."
It's been over three years since Tommy's life was forever changed.
In a recent Facebook post, Tommy had nothing but praise for his grandson Kaydan, calling him "the best anti-depressant that money could never buy."
As far as the child's future is concerned, Tommy intends to give him every opportunity so that he can be the "future world champion in whatever he decides to do. I'll support him no matter what."
What's a random act of kindness that you've done lately?
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