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Photograph of Homeless Father and 5-Year-Old Son Goes Viral, Strangers Step In to Help

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There’s a 2006 Will Smith movie called “The Pursuit of Happyness.” Ever seen it?

It’s based on the true story of entrepreneur Chris Gardner. Smith plays Gardner, in a harrowing performance that was nominated for an Academy Award.

Gardner wasn’t merely homeless on his own, you see. He was also struggling daily to provide for his young son, Christopher Jr., played by Smith’s real-life son, Jaden.

The fact that this Hollywood movie was based upon real-life circumstances lends it extra gravity. But the thing is, numerous other individuals struggle with these challenging odds as well.

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Take, for example, a troubling snapshot that recently went viral across social media. It provided a heartrending glimpse into the daily life of Anthony Whigham and his 5-year-old little boy, Tsukiko Jack.

The photo was taken in Stockton, California. It depicted a father and son living in an area called Mormon Slough.

Their meager living quarters appeared to consist of a flimsy green tent and a patch of bare, muddy ground.

This alarming portrait of hardship became an immediate point of concern for the surrounding community.

Area resident William Crockett shared his worry with Sacramento Fox affiliate KTXL. “That breaks my heart to see him out there, struggling,” he said.

Whigham explained to KTXL that his trailer burned to the ground when Tsukiko was merely a toddler.

After that, it was a constant struggle.

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“Him first, me last, and a lot of times that’s my whole day,” Whigham told KTXL. “If he had another relative that he could be living with, in a better situation, that’s where he’d be.”

The original photo prompted local residents to rally around the pair with a charitable GoFundMe campaign. But then child protective services became aware of the situation, and separated Tsukiko from his father.

Sal Acevedo, who works with Stockton’s Gospel Center Rescue Mission to help feed area homeless, sympathizes with Whigham’s ongoing dilemma as a male caretaker. Acevedo explained to KTXL that “most shelters will take maybe the mother and the children, but they won’t take the father.”

Now Whigham is without the light of his life, and he’s understandably devastated. But he’s also determined to regain custody of his little boy.

“My own personal issues, my own personal anger is not important right now,” Whigham declared. “I need to do whatever it takes to get my son back, and that’s what I’m doing.”

He also asked media outlets to send Tsukiko a heartfelt message. “Daddy loves you, son,” Whigham said. “No matter what anybody says, you know daddy always love you.”

Whigham explained that he’s currently working to secure a home, and will soon appear in family court with hopes to reclaim his son.

It’s worth remembering that after a difficult battle, “The Pursuit of Happyness” ended with abundant hope and expectation.

In the meantime, Whigham is extremely grateful to the community supporters who rallied around him.

“They really came together and gave me a lot of help,” he said. “I really appreciate that.”

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Mary Bittel is a professional writer, marketer, and published author. She's produced content for several respected media organizations, and dozens of major industries including education, animal welfare, healthcare, finance, non-profit, technology, and entertainment. As an accomplished musician, she's also worked in a therapeutic teaching capacity with developmentally disabled children.
Mary Bittel is a professional writer, marketer, and published author. She's produced content for several respected media organizations, and dozens of major industries including education, animal welfare, healthcare, finance, non-profit, technology, and entertainment. As an accomplished musician, she's also worked in a therapeutic teaching capacity with developmentally disabled children. Additionally, she's an avid animal lover who has spent much of her life rehabilitating abused rescue canines.
Books Written
"The Hidden Treasury: Stories of Wonders and Wanderings"
Location
Illinois
Languages Spoken
English, French
Topics of Expertise
Music, Marketing, Nutrition, Fitness, Pet Care/Behavior, Cooking, Entertainment




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