Strangers Help Florida Dad Attend His Son’s Graduation

Troy Branch thanks Reddit for fulfilling his ‘bucket list.’

(Photo: Troy Branch/Facebook)

Jun 5, 2014· 1 MIN READ
Suzi Parker is a regular contributor to TakePart. Her work also appears in The Christian Science Monitor and Reuters.

Troy Branch wanted to see his son Ty graduate from high school, but he wasn’t sure if he would make it.

Branch’s car broke down, and it looked as though he wouldn’t get to his son’s graduation ceremony on May 30 in Tavares, Fla., three and half hours away from Branch’s Tallahassee home.

Branch, who manages a custom photo lab in Tallahassee, responded to a thread on Reddit in mid-May that asked, “What’s on your bucket list?” to say, “I want to see my son graduate from high school.” He told the Redditors—as Reddit readers are called—“Don’t have the resources to travel the 300 miles. Graduates Friday May 30th.”

Redditors rallied for Branch to see Ty graduate.

As one Redditor wrote to Branch, “You need any more help, money or anything. Toss me a PM. Everyone should be able to see their sons/daughters graduate.” Another wrote, “We all know of the ridiculous and grotesque stuff on Reddit, but every now and then I come across a story like this and it makes me proud to be a Redditor.”

The Redditors helped him find a bus ticket that cost only $7.50 to Orlando, about an hour away from Tavares. When he arrived, a woman whose family lived in the area offered to give him a ride from the bus station to his hotel. To identify himself to the stranger, Branch stood in the bus parking lot and shouted “Reddit!” until the woman approached him. Another stranger then donated his Holiday Inn points to score Branch a room for the graduation weekend.

Branch posted his son’s reaction to the news that he would attend the graduation: “I’m glad to see you can make it down to see me graduate. It means a lot to me. With the time we have between now and then, I’m sure we can work out the details of where you’ll be staying and your mode of transportation. I look forward to seeing you, Dad.”

The bus ticket and the lift weren’t the only gifts from Redditors. Readers also gave Branch about $300 so that he could get Ty a graduation present and also take Ty and his younger brother to the movies. To pay back all of his supporters, Branch offered to send pictures of the graduation, but they insisted he post them online so the entire Reddit community could see them. He has told several media outlets that he made new friends, and as he wrote on Reddit: “People are amazing!”