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We've been celebrating our 13th season by honoring viewers who help their communities and inspire others in ways big and small. Our "Lucky 13" series was full of surprises, tears and triumphs — and we truly didn't want it to end.
So, to make our "Lucky 13" even luckier, we're adding a lucky number 14!
Joe is a 60-year-old self-proclaimed "bachelor" from Bronx, NY. He has six adopted sons — and he's working on number seven, he says.
"I grew up in the New York State foster system. I was placed in foster care from birth — my foster parents were limited," Joe says. "Part of their disciplinary action was to tell us to pack our bags and sit on the steps because they were going to call the county to send us back. I was never officially adopted."
"I was lucky that I found people in my life that I connected to," he continues. "My high school coach, for one, was a lifesaver. He was like I think a father should be."
Joe says he'd thought about having children forever. And then he met someone from You Gotta Believe, an adoption agency whose purpose is to find homes for older children, who introduced him to his now oldest son, Xavier.
"I adopted him at age 18. Almost every year after that, I kept adding a kid," Joe continues.
Joe and Xavier (who is now 27 years old and a father himself) have since added six more members to their family: Ronny (21), Kamren (14), Jhon (20), Cinsere (13), Creemel (25) and Johnathan (24).
We invited this heroic dad and his seven adopted sons on our show.
"Statistically, I should be in jail or homeless, and I was lucky — I had somebody in my life who told me a direction, and I was fortunate enough to listen to that," Joe tells Rach. "50 percent of the kids that leave care are homeless."
Rach had a few surprises ready for Joe, starting with the man who changed his life. She brought out Al, Joe's high school track coach, and his wife Sheila — watch the adorable reunion in the video above.
For the next surprise, Rach announced that Joe and his sons are going to the Kartrite Resort and Indoor Waterpark in the Catskills.
And there was still one more gift. Al instilled in Joe the importance of education — and thanks to a $20,000 donation to the boys' college funds from CommonBond, Joe can help his sons further their respective educations, too.
Meet the inspirational family and see their reactions to the surprises in the video above.