Caleb Baker & Ben Leonard

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Caleb (top right) first became a dad at the age of fourteen. He was immediately denied any involvement with his little girl, and the legal system did very little to support him in fighting for his rights. Nevertheless, Caleb’s commitment to his daughter, Libby, spurred him to continue fighting for a place in her life. Despite ongoing emotional abuse, consistent assaults on his character and livelihood, and every effort to prevent him from bonding with Libby, Caleb has remained steadfast and patient as a father. Libby and her little sister, Ava, enjoy a father who speaks softly to them, validates their feelings, and cheers them on with his whole heart. Caleb shows, every day, that he believes in the innate strength and value of his daughters.

Ben (left side) is a special father because not only does he invest in his son (Ben Jr.) but also made the choice to take on Ben Jr’s big sister, Ava. Ben takes his role as a father and stepfather seriously, constantly reading the latest parenting articles and always searching for ways he can give more of himself to make the lives of his children better. As a firefighter and paramedic, Ben has to spend a lot of time away from home, which wears on him. Yet, instead of giving in to the exhaustion, he plans his home time around his children. He makes it clear to them every day that they are his world, his motivation, and his highest priorities.

I thought I might also add that, in addition to being wonderful dads in their own right, they co-parent flawlessly as biological father and stepfather to Ava. Ben also accepts Libby as part of the family and welcomes her into our home, caring for her equally even though she’s not technically even his stepchild. Caleb is the same with Ben Jr. and even babysits him on occasion. We do holidays together and both dads sit together at events to jointly support the children they love.

Below is a photo of Caleb (right) and Ben (left) both holding Ava and congratulating her after one of her performances.

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Joe Brodnik