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Durham Man Becomes Champion Of Children

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DURHAM, N.C. — Thanksgiving is a time when many people count their blessings.

There is a man in Durham whom many describe as a blessing beyond compare.

Chuck Champion has been a hero to the tiniest members of the community for a decade.

"I believe that God gave me the ability to be able to deal with people," Champion said. "That's basically all these little people need, is someone to respect and care for them and love them."

Champion, a 66-year-old former U.S. Marine, has been a foster parent to 25 babies over the past 10 years. They are babies with serious medical problems.

"What we're trying to do is offer a stopgap," he said. "A place where children can come. Feel like they're at home. Be treated like they're at home.

"They're a part of this family as long as they're in this house."

Most of the babies were born to drug-addicted parents. They need round-the-clock medical attention.

Deanna Kitay is a guardian ad litem, a volunteer who represents the interests of the children in the legal system. She is impressed by Champion.

"He provides excellent care, supervision, monitoring, love," she said. "And these babies are difficult."

Champion has three grown children of his own and two stepchildren. They admit to not always understanding his need to be a foster parent. But now they say they're inspired by his compassion.

"I really saw the connection that my dad has with all the kids," Renee Bryant said, "and I realized that all these kids need the same love that I was getting."

Said Champion: "It's the kind of rewarding experience that you can't buy. You can't pay for the feelings of the knowledge of what you've done."

Champion hopes that others will follow his lead

"By all means, and at all speeds, please get involved," said Champion, who has adopted two of the babies he's fostered and plans to adopt a third. "There are a lot of little babies out there who need someone."

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