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Helmut Schmidt, Published November 28 2010

Gifts of Generosity: Man reflects on families' kindnesses

Paul Shereck’s father suffered a debilitating stroke in 1982, and his family’s life changed.

Shereck’s mother, Diane, had to raise two sons and a daughter. Money was tight.

“You didn’t do a lot of things that you would do in a normal family setting,” said the 44-year-old Hickson, N.D.-area man.

But family friends Dick and Marie Bellerud and Jim and Gloria Thompson stepped in. With well-placed kindnesses, they helped Shereck and his siblings enjoy their youth – and did for them what their father could no longer do.

“Often, I used to think that our family was dealt a bad hand in life, but looking back, it was just a test, and these people made it a whole lot easier during that test in life,” he said.

After the stroke put Shereck’s father in a nursing home, the Belleruds would check in on the family and from time to time bring gifts – money, a kitchen table, a car to use for prom or homecoming.

Jim Thompson was the father of one of Shereck’s best friends, Paul.

The elder Thompson took Shereck fishing and hunting and on vacations. He bought Shereck his first car and taught him to drive a tractor and a truck.

When Shereck was on the state champion Grafton, N.D., hockey team in 1985 and his sister was a cheerleader, Thompson bought their rings.

“Both of those men, Dick and Jim, essentially provided me a father figure growing up,” Shereck said.

Now Shereck is a dispatcher for Bellerud Transport in Fargo, in his 21st year working for the Belleruds.

Shereck’s father died in 2004.

Shereck vows that if his two daughters have a friend in need of the same help, he will be first in line so he can pass on the gifts he was given.

“I am forever grateful to the Belleruds and Thompsons for taking me under their wings and helping me to fly along with our family,” Shereck said.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Helmut Schmidt at (701) 241-5583