Raymond Banda never thought he would be a single father at just 22, but with 3-year-old Atheina's mother out of the picture, he is left to keep tabs on their rambunctious and giggly little girl. (Source: CBS 5 News)
PHOENIX (CBS5) -
Being a single parent is hard enough, but when a single dad lost his ability to get to work or take his daughter to school, his neighbor reached out to give him some relief.
Raymond Banda never thought he would be a single father at just 22, but with 3-year-old Atheina's mother out of the picture, he is left to keep tabs on their rambunctious and giggly little girl.
"I felt like, 'I can't believe I created something this beautiful.' I felt like, 'I'm going to be a dad and I'm going to have to show the responsibility as a young kid, a young man to actually do this,'" Banda said.
Banda is the first to admit he wasn't always on the right path as a teenager, but he was just hitting his stride, getting into a routine with Atheina when the unexpected happen.
"I was doing good. I had a good job, started to get paid money, was saving up and then I had the car accident and I was like, 'Aw, great,'" Banda said.
Banda lost control of his car, slid off the road and crashed into a ditch.
"All of the sudden, both airbags deployed and I was like, 'Oh My God, what just happened,'" Banda said.
"The fan broke, the radiator broke, the battery wiggles," Banda said.
It will take at least $2,000 to fix.
In the meantime, Banda has to carpool with his mother every morning and night to get everyone to work and Atheina to daycare.
"I think he's doing a phenomenal job as a single parent," neighbor Bobbie Sieloff said.
Sieloff didn't want to see all of his progress derailed by a simple accident.
"I think this is just a way for him to get a jump start on doing it on his own," Sieloff said.
Sieloff nominated Banda for the Pay It Forward program and this week presented him with $500 cash.
"It would make me so happy to be able to help this single father continue to move in the right direction and be able to have dependable transportation to keep his job and care for his daughter. I was excited to find the Pay It Forward site and feel this would be the perfect pay it forward opportunity," Sieloff said.
"She sees that I can be a great dad and she knows that I am, so I think that's why she nominated me and I'm surprised that I won anything in my life. It's a good feeling," Banda said.
"I guess I just want my daughter to look up to me and know that she has somebody who can be independent on their own and just learn from that," Banda said. "You just have to keep trying and do the best that you can do."
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