Randy and Joey Vires of Mountlake Terrace shared an experience last week that fathers and sons don’t often get to share.
They stood next to each other in blue caps and gowns during Edmonds Community College’s commencement ceremony June 15.
Randy, 52, received an associate degree in pre-nursing. Joey, 22, earned his GED diploma.
“A father and son graduating together, I don’t think you see that very often,” Randy said.
It was a long road for both.
Joey was a star athlete when he was a boy. He didn’t have much interest in school, but sports kept him focused and out of trouble.
When Joey was in 10th grade at Bothell High School, he fell on the basketball court and injured his back. He fell in with the wrong crowd and dropped out.
Joey kept telling his parents he’d be back in school soon. But he put school on the back burner after getting a job stocking boxes at Costco.
Watching his son’s future slipping away was painful for Randy. He thought his son could do better.
Finding a calling
Randy Vires was born in Butte, Mont., and moved to Washington with his family when he was a child.
In 2008, he became the first member of his family to go to college when he enrolled in EdCC to get an associate degree. Health problems had forced him to leave his job driving trucks, and he didn’t want to depend on disability checks.
Randy started out wanting to be a nursing assistant and received CPR and first-responder training.
Not long after starting college, Randy suffered congestive heart failure and spent several days in a coma.
Medical bills piled up, and the Vires family lost their home.
They moved into a Lynnwood motel. Something happened there effected both father and son.
About 2 o’clock one morning, Randy Vires said he left his room to get some ice for his wife. He saw a man lying on the floor in the hallway. The man was unresponsive.
Randy said he dropped on his knees and went through the steps he had learned so well in a CPR class.
All this time he also was banging on the wall so someone would come out and call 911. Joey brought out his dad’s first-aid kit.
They kept the man alive until paramedics arrived.
“That’s when I realized there’s a purpose for me in all this, that nursing is for me,” Randy said.
Dad sets example
After completing his associate degree, Randy enrolled in a pre-nursing program. He now plans to apply to the University of Washington’s competitive nursing school.
The night Randy saved a stranger’s life outside his motel room, a light went off in his son’s head, too.
“He couldn’t stop bragging about it,” said Sandy Vires, Randy’s wife and Joey’s mom. “He kept telling me, ‘My dad’s a hero. If he can do something, I can do it.’”