I want to share my heart with you. I’ve been meaning to do so since I started this project a few weeks ago. My emotions are heavy though and I’m afraid I won’t be able to convey the truth and depth of them very well. Well in my weakness He is strong, right? (2 Cor 12:7-9)

So I’ll try to tell some stories about what Everett and Austin have meant to me and what they have taught me about being a better father…and about LIFE in general. As in, what is important in life.

I can feel my emotions bubbling up even as I have finally started this post. I intend to share stories in videos eventually so that you can get more of the feeling behind the words that I am typing. That’ll be hard because once it’s out there in internet-land it is out there, and I’m not quite ready. I just have to keep in mind that I am a human being doing his best. And my best will be good enough. It is what it is.

I’d say that the biggest thing that I learned from my boys is Carpe Diem, Seize the Day, Make the Most Out of Each Moment. Don’t Take Anything for Granted. We found out that they would have a short life expectancy in 1997 when they were 3 and 1. This terrifying news had a natural, organic way of producing a Living in the Moment lifestyle. So for that I can be grateful.

I was inwardly compelled to be a better dad and to be patient as a dad because I didn’t know how much time I’d eventually have with them. I wanted to ‘redeem the time’ and make the most out of what few moments I would have with them.

What made this even more pressing was that I ended up in a divorce with their mother in 2002 and I ended up having even less time with them then I had hoped! So I made the best of it. Many times I beat myself up for not being a very good dad. But I did my best.

One instance of being a good dad was about 10 years ago in like 2008. I asked Everett, the oldest, if he ever wishes he could ski. He said, “NO! That would HURT!”

I paused. I didn’t try to explain what I meant and I never did. I thought about what he was actually saying. He was saying that he was FINE the way he was and he didn’t want to change! Can you imagine? He could hardly move about and do things for himself, but when I asked him about something different than what he was, he instantly said NO!

As I thought about it then, and continue to reflect on it, Everett had an amazing acceptance and contentment about who he was and his limitations. What a gift! We can all learn something from that. Contentment is so important.

I had a similar experience with Austin about 7 years ago in 2011. I knew that both he and Everett had long grew disinterested in baseball. I love baseball and particularly the Yankees. I follow each game and stat religiously.

So I’d tease Everett and Austin about how the Yankees had won the previous night or whatever, pretending that they might care. I’d often get a chuckle from them or a sigh, humoring me a little bit.

One time, we were in their mom’s kitchen and both boys were crowded in it in their wheelchairs. And I don’t think I’ll ever forget the way Austin joked with me about it. He was pulling my leg (both boys had a great sense of humor), but here’s what he said…

“You know Dad, I don’t get it why people want to run around in a circle over and over again just to get back to the same spot!”

He said it in his typical tongue-in-cheek, wry sense of humor. We all had a good belly laugh about that one. Hah! Can you imagine the simplicity? Really put the game of baseball into perspective for me. haha

You know, that even though I don’t have any more children of my own anymore for the time being, through this experience I have gained a lot of fatherly love to share for kids in general, and for kids with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy (DMD) in particular.

My heart goes out to Paul Kayonga and his kids and I want to help them. I can totally empathize with Paul from a father’s perspective. And not only that, but I want to help the kids! And also help other kids affected by DMD in the poorer parts of the world, too.

I’m sure there are fathers and mothers and children affected by DMD in other remote villages in Uganda…and in other parts of Africa, in remote parts of India, and many other remote parts of other countries who stand in need of blessing from The Everett and Austin Project.

As God provides and as God is our witness, we will do so.

Official Mission of The Everett and Austin Project

The goal of the Everett and Austin Project, Inc. is to improve the health-related quality of life for children with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy and other rare diseases, and increase educational opportunities for individuals and families in developing countries. Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy is a genetic disease that causes progressive muscle weakness, leading to disability, impaired function, and decreased ability to participate in daily activities.

Children in developing countries are often underserved, neglected, and/or abandoned by their parents. Some families live in remote areas with little to no access to medical and healthcare resources. Additionally, impoverished individuals and families struggle to meet their daily basic needs due to lack of much needed resources.

The Everett and Austin Project seeks to educate, empower, and equip individuals with products, services, and skills to improve overall quality of life and sustainable living in developing countries.

By Tim Gillen

I'm a born-again christian, sold out to serving the needs of the less fortunate and in Sub-Saharan Africa. I founded The Everett and Austin Project in October 2018 to honor my 2 boys posthumously by helping people living in poverty going thru Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy and other rare diseases. My sons each died of Duchenne, Austin in 2012 at age 16 and Everett in 2017 at age 22.

12 thoughts on “Tim Gillen: A Father’s Perspective”
  1. Hi Tim
    Isn’t it incredible how our Heavenly Father lays purpose in our hearts? Through our hardships and pain, only He can heal and direct us to where we can share His message of redeeming love.
    Bless you for allowing Him to guide you to where you can be His hands and feet. I pray that you will make it to Uganda soon and spend the time with Paul Kayonga and his kids.
    Louise

    PS. Have you heard of Business With A Mission? BAM. Perhaps they would be good for you to connect with too.

  2. I would like to send you a check for $100.00 in memory of your two sons to help your foundation. Can I have an address to my email account? I’m having trouble using a credit card.

    1. It was so nice to meet with you on Saturday and pick up your $100 cash donation. That helped us so much!! I’m so sorry that you had trouble with your credit card on the system that we are using. I have another system that I could tell you about that you could use your credit card with in the future. Message me on Facebook Messenger about it and I will tell you.

  3. I was listening to you on NTV and I felt touched. You such a kind hearted human being Tim.
    May God bless your hands and grant you all your wishes.

  4. Tim, just wanted to drop you a note.
    The Lord laid it on my heart to be in His will for me to have been able to pledge. I just wanted you to know that it felt so satisfying and rewarding to do so. I know that the Lord is watching you closely and have you in His heart. Thank you for being such an example to us all while we are being reminded that it is not the works but the condition of the heart that makes the gigantic deeds for the Lord. You are always in my prayers. Stay rejoiced in the Lord.

    1. Hi Ethel! I am so, so happy that you are committed to keeping your pledge. And thank you SO MUCH for your very generous donation! It means so much to us. And you have such a heart to give to the Lord about it that makes it even more special. Let us continue together to reach for and serve our Blessed Lord. He is so good to us. It is only right that we spread His goodness around. God is with us and may He fill you up real good today with His Bountiful Spirit! 🙂 Tim

  5. What an amazing story. You are great Dad, yes, even if you don’t have them anymore. Once a Dad, always a Dad. Now you spread our fatherly love to other children, and it’s the best way. Your boys would be so proud of you!

    1. Thank you so much Irina. I really needed to hear this from you today. You have given me such a pep talk today between here and LinkedIn. Thank you for being there for me. Together we are stronger. 😄 With love, Tim

  6. Hi Tim,
    As a Duchenne Dad in Uganda, I am humbled and inspired by your story. It affirms to me that every thing happens for reason for those who love the Lord, I and My family we are a living Testimony of what you committed your self to do many years ago through the The Everett and Austin Project, I can Testify it’s been a blessing getting in touch with you, when the news was broken to us that our Son Ethan Ayinza had DMD in Dec 2019, we had No idea about it, we were SAD, the more we read about it, the more we were depressed and cried often. When we met you and heard your story, That Whatsapp call gave us alot of hope, you encouraged us to believe in our heavenly father, you told us your story, I and my wife were surely encouraged, because we were listening from someone with Experience of what was going through…….
    Encouraging and supporting us to Start Ayinza Duchenne Support Center (ADSC) with focus to creating awareness and testing of DMD in Uganda is a great cause for humanity. This has manifested more purpose for us and Ayinza Ethan’s Life.
    We remain Grateful you, and to our Lord Jesus Christ.
    May God continue to guide you, to bless you and Bless The Everett and Austin Project.
    We love you.

    1. I feel so blessed to know you and Stella and your sister Esther. Truly inspiring to know you and work with you. God is blessing us through all of the difficulty that Duchenne presents. But together we can fight against it and together we are stronger. Love you guys. 🙂 Tim

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