Teen Surprises Terminally Ill Dad with His Last Dying Wish


For students, graduation is often both a time of hardship and celebration, where friendships and memories are sure to be left behind, but new beginnings are just around the corner.

Though it’s a time for both parents and students to feel proud, for one high school graduate, in particular, the ceremony was about more than just himself.

Oak Harbor High School student Darien Borowski was expected to walk across the stage in May, before all of his peers and family members. However, his father, Terry Borowski, wasn’t expected to make it to that date because he was terminally ill.

For nearly two weeks, Terry had been staying at Stein Hospice in Sandusky, Ohio, where he admitted the fear to his family that he might not pull through to see the ceremony.

“That was the first thing that he said when he started getting a little weaker, ‘I don’t think I’m going to make it for graduation,’” recalled Terry’s wife, Michelle, to Port Clinton News Herald.

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When the eager father told social worker Jennifer DeWitt that seeing his son graduate was the only wish he had left, DeWitt decided to take action.

The social worker reached out to the high school, proposing they do a “mock” graduation for the high school senior and his family.

Principal Cheryl Schell, school board president Jeff Dornbusch and district superintendent Guy Parmigian decided to take DeWitt’s idea a step further. Just a few days later, an early commencement was prepared for Darien, with staff and students trying to make it as authentic as possible.

“We’ll do anything for our kids and their families,” Schell stated. “This was a no-brainer. I couldn’t think of anything more important than to be here today.”

It was the second early graduation that the hospice center had hosted in the past decade, as the school administration has had a history of fully cooperating on behalf of patients being cared for.

“They would absolutely drop everything for something this important,” Dornbusch said of colleagues Schell and Parmigian. “This is just important as the May graduation date.”

DeWitt echoed that praise when speaking about the hospice center itself, which is known for putting patients first and assisting in making their last wishes come true. And for both Terry and Darien, it certainly was.

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Terry admitted the mock ceremony “meant the world” and seeing Darien in his green cap and gown was a wonderful surprise, even if he has to finish up a few senior classes before receiving his diploma.

“I’m so proud of you,” Terry told his son, along with joking that he should throw his cap in the air.

“Just seeing his father’s face — it made us very happy we’re here today,” Schell added. “As parents, we just want to know our kids are going to be OK. That they have a future and can take care of themselves. We have no doubt about that with Darien.”

After high school, Darien said that he plans to pursue either a degree in welding or enroll in studying information technology.

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ASU grad who loves all things reading and writing.
Becky is an ASU grad who uses her spare time to read, write and play with her dog, Tasha. Her interests include politics, religion, and all things science. Her work has been published with ASU's Normal Noise, Phoenix Sister Cities, and "Dramatica," a university-run publication in Romania.
Bachelor of Arts in English/Creative Writing
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