Webster’s Dictionary defines fate as the development of events beyond a person’s control, regarded as determined by a supernatural power. In life, sometimes everything falls into place for those who deserve it, either by fate or of their own doing, and a good story is often birthed from those moments.
Drake Hamilton, a freshman at the University of North Alabama, barely made it onto campus this fall. His car was on its last leg and puttering slowly to uselessness. The hour and a half drive back home to Falkville, Alabama was a valid concern for him and his family. Hamilton’s first car was a 1998 Buick that his older brother, Ryan, had passed down to him.
Shortly after Ryan gave his car to Drake, Drake totaled it. He came out of the wreck with a few scratches, but he lost a lot trust from his parents.
“My grandpa surprised my brother with the car. He and his friends named it Steven. It was some sort of inside joke,” he said. “That sucker was bottom heavy though. I don’t know how I flipped it.”
Earlier this year, Ryan told Drake that he could borrow his Dodge Charger while he was away for school. Ryan’s trust in Drake brought him a tremendous amount of joy. Ryan is two years older than Drake, and when Ryan was 10 years old, he was forced to move to Arizona because of family issues. Drake still remembers the tears that rolled down his face as his best friend left the airport to live halfway across the country.
“He told us that he really missed us and wanted to come back. Eventually, we decided to get custody of him,” said Drake. Drake’s grandfather flew out to Arizona and brought Ryan back to be a part of the family. “We went to Disney World to celebrate as soon as he moved back,” Drake said.
Ryan and Drake became best friends and then they became brothers. Drake doesn’t remember a time without having a brother. Their parents not only provided Ryan with love, but also an opportunity to succeed.
Now, Ryan is on the path to be a hero. Ryan is currently in a preparatory school before he enrolls into the United States Military Academy. He has accepted a full scholarship to play football for the Army and has accepted the reality that he will serve this country after he graduates.
“I originally signed with Faulkner, but when West Point came into the mix I couldn’t pass that up.”
Ryan was a little apprehensive to ask his coach if he could go to West Point, but the coach fully understood what of type opportunity this was for his former player. Ryan will be living in Hebron, Maine for the next year where he will attend school. Football heavily influenced him to sign with the Army, although Ryan said the main reason he chose the Army was the unique experience he will get serving our country and getting an education at the same time.
On Aug. 25, 2016, Listerhill Credit Union hosted “The Big Deal” on UNA’s campus. This year Listerhill gave one lucky student a car.
“As soon as my mom saw the car she kept saying that I was going to win it. She said that car was going to be mine.”
Drake’s hopes to win the car were a little less optimistic. He knew that the chance of his name being drawn from 171 other names was incredibly small. Later that evening, after Drake’s parents and brother had left, he heard his name announced. He was one of three students to choose a bag that may or may not have the keys to the car. When the moment came for him to search the bag, fate was on his side.
He immediately called his mother to share the news. “My mom’s voice was shaking so bad, ‘You better not being lying to me!’ She screamed and my dad said she even danced around the house,” he said.
When Ryan found out about the car he could not help but be extremely excited for his younger brother. “It felt like I had won the car too. That’s how excited I was for him,” Ryan said.
Drake and his mom signed the paperwork the very next morning to seal the deal. Drake had declared a few months ago that he was going to save money to buy a new car his first two years at UNA.
After he won the car, I cautiously asked him how much he had saved so far. With a guilty laugh he said, “I actually haven’t saved anything.” This car really is a “Big Deal” for the Hamilton family. “It would have taken a while for me to save up to get a new car. Right now times are a little rough,” Drake said.
A car has given a mother peace about her son’s safety as he drives back home for the holidays, and it has given an opportunity for Drake to earn a part-time job. Stories like these prove that anyone can be a hero at any moment in life. Being a hero does not require a super power. It is simply sacrificing for the greater good of others. If you see Drake cruising around in his red Ford Focus, tell him that he rocks. He deserves it.