Losing a child is the worst nightmare a parent can ever face, but for one Lake County teacher, he's turned personal loss into success in inspiring others.
David Bultema, a teacher of the year, works at Lake Minneola High School in Minneola where he teaches American History. Previously, he coached baseball at East Ridge High School in Clermont and he's also coached the champion Orlando Scorpions, a traveling youth baseball team. Bultema knows how to win, but in this case, his success came in the face of tragedy.
In 2013, David and his wife were expecting their third son. The child was diagnosed with Trisomy 18, a genetic disorder. They named their baby Aaron, but Aaron didn't survive. The death of the young baby shook the Bultema family to the core.
"It hit us very hard in the heart and within the family," Bultema said. "After a few days, though, we just sort of decided that we needed to get up off the ground and turn this awful thing into something positive, if that was even possible. We wanted to show our kids that there was a way to handle adversity."
That positive message soon went beyond the Bultema family and spread to friends, students and others. They suggested that "Aaron Strong" was an appropriate term for confronting this adversity head on. Bultema also embraced the motto of Alabama head football coach Nick Saban.
GRIT stands for growth, resilience, initiative and tenacity. The AaronStrong Foundation is growing through presentations and events, which also helps to spread the word about the condition that claimed the life of baby Aaron.
"Before all of this happened, I knew nothing about Trisomy 18," Bultema said. "Now, we raise awareness to the disorder as well as spreading the message that there is a way to face adversity and handle it before it gets the best of you. Look, you're going to fail at things. It's going to happen. The question is ... How do you overcome it? How do you confront it? Giving you the tools to handle it, that's what we're trying to do."
Handling that adversity has turned a tragedy for the Bultema family into a message of hope, something that all ages can learn from.