Hello, My Name is Dad

The improbable—more like one in 17 million (give or take a few million)—meeting of Tommy Schaff and Joe Gleason would change their lives and form an unbreakable bond between this father and son duo.

Joe Gleason never cared all that much about golf. Kind of thought it was a wimpy sport, to be honest. So he couldn’t really explain why he was so eager to meet this Tommy Schaff guy his friend kept talking about. Tommy just sounded like a cool guy, and he was a professional athlete, even if it wasn’t in one of Joe’s favorite sports. What he didn’t know was that Tommy always thought the same thing. He was a football and baseball growing up and thought golf was for “rich kids and sissies.”

He only took up the sport when injuries derailed his promising baseball career, hitting balls with his dad and brother through the trees from their backyard to an open field behind Windsor Forest High School.

“I was hooked” Tommy says. “Sports had always kind of come easy to me, and golf didn’t come as easy to me, and I was determined to get better.” Then his life changed.

Tommy was 19 and a freshman in college when he found out his 17-year-old girlfriend, Stephanie Sheppard, was expecting a child. Stephanie was a senior in high school whose parents were going through a divorce, and raising a child was too much to take on.

They didn’t want to do it, but adoption seemed like the best option for everyone involved.

It was a dream come true for Ted and Ann Gleason, an Irish Catholic couple from Savannah who couldn’t have kids of their own. The Gleasons took in Joe when he was six weeks old, grateful for their blessing.

Joe enjoyed the life every kid should have, but he always maintained that he wanted to meet his birth parents when he was old enough. Someday he would put faces to the names—Tommy and Stephanie.

 

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