23 Year Old Becomes World’s Youngest Grandfather

    Tommy Connolly was a college student at the University of the Sunshine Coast in Queensland, Australia. His life was that of a fairly typical 23-year-old: school, part-time job, sports, friends. But that all changed one day in 2015, when a fateful Facebook message would turn his life upside down.


    Facebook/Tommy Connolly
    Tommy was a decorated athlete, and not just at college level. While he was on the Track and Field team at his university, he also participated in competitions outside of school. He was a talented runner, and dreamed of one day racing in national and perhaps even international championships. Little did he know that he’d soon have to put his athletic career on hold.


    Facebook/Tommy Connolly
    Aside from school and sports, Tommy was overall a very adventurous person. Living in Australia, it’s not hard to fall in love with nature, and Tommy certainly took advantage of all that the outdoors had to offer. He’d often go hiking, climbing, rafting… anything that gave him that adrenaline rush. But the biggest adventure of his life was yet to begin.


    Facebook/Tommy Connolly
    As a business and economics student, Tommy’s plans were to one day start his own company – something that could allow him to continue his athletic career and go on various adventures. Before long, though, he found himself applying his economics knowledge to something far more pressing: a family to support.


    Facebook/Tommy Connolly
    Aside from his numerous adventures all over Australia, Tommy had the chance to go on vacation to the US with his friends. This experience made him realize how much he loved to travel, and hoped to do some more of it before finding a job or settling down. That decision was made for him, though, when he suddenly had a baby to look after.


    Facebook/Tommy Connolly
    Tommy’s girlfriend, Olivia Tauro, is also an accomplished athlete. They had been best friends for 8 years before they started dating. Though she is neither the mother nor grandmother of Tommy’s grandson, he can’t envision a life without her. But dating a father and grandfather was not what Olivia signed up for.


    Facebook/Kiarna Chapman
    Tommy had a 17-year-old cousin named Kiarna. Though they were close when they were little, they lost touch and hadn’t spoken in over 10 years. Since Kiarna lived in Southport, Tommy didn’t know much about her life. But one day she decided to get in touch, and Tommy was shocked by what he learned.


    Facebook/Kiarna Chapman
    Kiarna had been living on the streets for quite a while. Her parents could not take care of her, so she turned to petty crime and drugs. She was expelled from school in 2011 and was almost illiterate. She had a boyfriend, but he’d been recently sent to prison. “She could write the book on traumatic experiences,” said Tommy after he heard her story. In short, she had no one to turn to. But that was about to change.


    Facebook/Tommy Connolly
    Though Kiarna didn’t ask Tommy for anything, he was determined not to leave her in that situation. He felt guilty for not knowing what she had been through, since she’d been his favorite cousin as kids. He welcomed her into his home, but that was not enough for him. He wanted to make sure she could have a real chance in life. He then made a decision that would transform both their lives forever.


    Facebook/Tommy Connolly
    Tommy decided to legally adopt Kiarna. This meant he would be her legal guardian, with all the responsibilities such a thing entailed. Soon his efforts were paying off: her reading and writing had improved and she was looking forward to going back to school. Her life was now free of “drugs, violence and drama.” But life had one more curve ball to throw Tommy.


    Facebook/Tommy Connolly
    Kiarna revealed to Tommy that she was pregnant, with a baby whose father was in jail. She had feared that being on the streets meant her child would be taken away from her. But now that she was with Tommy, she thought she might finally have a chance to do things right. As for Tommy, he’d now become an adoptive grandfather, at only 23 years old. Would this be too big of a load?


    Facebook/Tommy Connolly
    Once baby Kaydan was born, just seven days after Kiarna’s adoption went through, all of Tommy’s worries suddenly didn’t seem so big. He filmed the whole birth and cut the umbilical cord – he was officially a grandfather, even before having any biological children. His life was about to change drastically, and sacrifices would have to be made.


    Facebook/Tommy Connolly
    Tommy found a second job selling farmers’ produce, while still going to school and continuing to train. Even so, his schedule permitted him to stay home most days to help Kiarna with the baby. But, true to his character, he doesn’t like to take the credit: “My cousin does 90 percent of the work.” But what did his girlfriend Olivia have to say about all this?


    Facebook/Tommy Connolly
    Olivia has always known Tommy as a kind-hearted, honorable person, so she supports him fully. She also helps take care of baby Kaydan, and they still plan on making a future together. They’ll just have to put up with a few confused faces when they explain their family situation to strangers. But people may be more understanding than they think, as was made evident when Tommy and Kiarna hit a rough patch.


    Facebook/Tommy Connolly
    To help with the load, Tommy’s brother decided to set up a GoFundMe page to contribute to their expenses. Since then, they’ve not only received tons of donations but also many words of support. “We’ve had all these messages which has made us realize there are so many other people in this situation, I don’t want people to think it’s a unique thing,” said Tommy. So how does he process this whole whirlwind experience?


    Facebook/Tommy Connolly
    On a Facebook post, Tommy reflected upon his situation. “All I wanted was to keep this boy safe and happy. I’d pick him every day of the week, 365 days of the year.” He topped it off with a birthday message for Kaydan: “Happy birthday to the happiest boy in Queensland, the best looking boy in the family, the best anti-depressant that money couldn’t buy, and the future world champion in whatever he chooses to do. I love you kid,” he wrote.

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