Sunshine Coast University student Tommy Connolly, 23, was training hard in the hope of one day representing Australia as a champion sprinter. But one day, out of the blue, he got a Facebook friend request from a cousin he had not seen in ten years, Kiarna Chapman. Tommy accepted her request and sent her a message asking how she was. Her reply was not what he had expected.
She was homeless, without a phone or even a pair of shoes, and was 23 weeks pregnant. She had just turned 17, and the baby's father was in jail. Tommy knew what he had to do. He picked up his cousin, drove her to his place, and got her settled in.
Tommy spent the next few months working, moving Kiarna to a better house, setting up a bank account for her, teaching her to drive - and to read and write - (she had only completed 6th grade), buying baby stuff and furniture, going to hospital/doctor appointments, and trying to come up with enough money to be able to pay the bills. On top of all that, he was dealing with several government departments, signing forms and being assessed and monitored so that he could prove himself legally capable of adopting Kiarna. That adoption was finalized on January 15, 2015.
On March 16, Kiarna's son, Jayden, was born. Tommy had been in the waiting room moments earlier, finishing off university papers due the next day. But he was right by Kiarna's side, assisting, during the birth.
Now Tommy is a proud Grandpa / Dad to his second cousin, Jayden, and is enjoying it very much. He continues to go to class and is working three days a week to support his new family. His brother Liam has started a fundraising page to help with finances. "Family comes first," says Tommy. "If it's one or two years of my life I have to put on hold to make sure two lives are going to be saved, it's nothing at all."