The State Told Him to Give up His 7 Kids, but This Widower Stood Tough and God Made a Way
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Mark Braudis is proud of the accomplishments of his seven children, considering he was forced to raise them alone.
The family's outlook was very bleak after his wife Helen was hit by a car and killed back in 2007. Today, his children are proud U.S. Marines and students. But a decade ago, life was just one big question mark.
Braudis faced an enormous burden after that tragic day. What should he do? How were they going to survive? Could he even keep his family together?
In the middle of his grief, Braudis couldn't keep up with his 12-hour-a-day job driving a cab because he needed to be around to take care of his grieving children. He lost his cab permit. Times soon got rough.
Braudis shared his remarkable story with the Alaska Dispatch News.
"I had to deal with the kids," he told the paper. "I wanted to get drunk. And all the kids were sitting around me and they were saying, 'Dad, we're hungry.' "
With no income, the family eventually lost their home in Anchorage, Alaska.
A caseworker suggested Braudis turn his children over to the state.
"The lady said, 'Listen, Dad, you're putting your kids up for adoption and you're going back to work,'" recalled Braudis.
But that was something he said he could never do.
"No, no, no, we're a team," said Braudis. "We're close. That never would have happened. We would be in the shelter, whatever, but I would die first. These are my children."
At one point, he and his children lived in a van. He would park the van in a local park, and he and the kids would shower at a nearby club. When morning came, they ate breakfast at McDonald's before school.
That's when God showed up. He used St. Anthony Catholic Church to do it.
The ministry helped the family by raising $77,000 for Braudis to buy his own taxi permit so he could work again, and an anonymous donor gave him $15,000.
When he went back to driving his cab, things were still difficult but he was finally able to move his family into an apartment. He said he often drove hungry and the children slept in triple bunk-beds.
Daughter Kelly says her dad always cooked, recalling how he worked hard to be there for his kids.
"Our dad talked to us all the time," she said.
Meanwhile, the church also pitched in to help take care of the children while Braudis worked, even covering rent when he wasn't able to.
Despite the hardships, the cab driver's kids all have bright futures, thanks to the hard work of their father and the generosity of St. Anthony Church.
Now, six of the children have joined the U.S Marine Corps. Two have already finished their service, three are serving now, and the youngest is pledged to enlist next spring.
And one son, David, is set to graduate with a degree in electrical engineering from the University of Alaska Anchorage.
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