Fifty-one-year-old Tim Boyd always keeps an eye out for a hurting child. The Kennedy Home alum stops suddenly while heading toward the door of OrthoCarolina in Concord where he serves as one of the clinic’s physician assistants.
“Hey, buddy,” Boyd greets a boy standing with his mom. He had attended the patient earlier and was surprised to see they had not left. The boy’s stressed look puts everything else on hold. “Can I help you?”
“It’s this new brace,” he tells Boyd. “It doesn’t feel right.” The boy is recovering from a broken collar bone and had been fitted with a figure eight clavicle brace.
“Let’s take a look at it again.” The trio go into the back only to reappear in a few minutes. Both mom, who appears relieved, and boy are smiling. Boyd walks them out the front door assuring them they can call him anytime.
“My brother Gary and I had been alone for three weeks,” Boyd begins to recount his childhood story. “I was about ten and Gary is two years younger.”
It was common for their dad not to come home. So common, in fact, that Boyd developed a routine. He and his brother would wake in time to dress and leave for school during the week. In the evening, he would scrounge a meal from what was in the refrigerator, they would do their homework, go to bed, and start over the next morning.
Only this time, a couple of nights passed and the days began to add up into the first week. When there was no more food left in the trailer, he and his brother began to pick up soda cans along the highway, sell them and spend what change they had earned to buy food at the nearby convenience store.
“I don’t remember being scared,” Boyd confides, “This was normal for us. Kids who are abused don’t realize there is anything different.”
One day, there was a knock at the door. Boyd remembers seeing a lady smiling. She told him that he and Gary were going to go with her.
“We were taken to a foster home first and then we came to live at Kennedy Home,” he recalls. “This was the worst and the best time in my life, all rolled up into one.”
The brothers were safe at Kennedy Home. There were adults who made sure they were well fed and clothed. There were chores, and all the children spent three hours a day doing homework. Boyd remembers playing and having fun.
“I learned a great work ethic,” he says. “We learned that there were others who counted on us and honesty was paramount. I felt good about the person I was becoming.”
Boyd was successful in high school and earned admission to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He graduated in 1988. Next, Boyd attended Bowman Gray School of Medicine, graduating valedictorian of his class to become a physician assistant in 1991.
“My wife Lisa and I made a commitment in 1991 to provide Christmas presents for all the children at Kennedy Home,” Boyd says, and then smiles. “Lisa thought it was like one home –– I told her there were 100 children.”
Lisa Boyd never blinked, and for 26 years the couple and their immediate family have bought Christmas for the children and staff who Boyd sees as kin. “They are my family.”
“When you go through what I have, you are thankful,” Boyd says. “You’re thankful for all you have and for all you can give.”
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