While most people in America are engrossed in the madness of March, 86-year old Alfonso Durante controls the madness at Carl Sandburg Middle School. He's been opening the gym on Saturdays for willing players for over thirty years, helping to shape young lives.
FOX 29's Bill Roher tells us more.
"He teaches us to be safe, polite teaches us manners, he has been like a real role model for all of us," said Tim Lally.
Former players even bring back their own kids just to meet him for the first time.
"Someone will come in here 1 time and he will know their name he will remember it forever," Lally said.
That's why Principal Dawn Kelly made him the official morning greeter at the school.
"The first person they see in the morning has this big smile and have a great day means the world to them. for some of them it might be the only smile they get all day," Principal Kelly said.
"I just have a feeling for everybody, You know I am the kind of guy who is good to have around cause I am always positive. When I found out these kids like me it got even better," Mr. Durante said.
For 45 minutes, Mr. Durante shakes hands and tells each kid he loves them.
"Sometimes I think kids just need that extra push and hey somebody has our back no matter what and you definitely find that in Mr. Durante," Conner Watson said.
"I think caring is the most important thing. It's easy for me to care, it's genuine," Mr. Durante explained.
Even a crowded 6th grade lunch room is no match.
But even the happiest souls can get down.
"I lost my wife four months ago, the great thing about my Nancy was that we were married for over 60 years. Just the best thing that ever happened to me in my life," Mr. Durante explained.
Mr. Durante came to work each day after, and was supported with and lots of hugs.
"I love giving, what can I say? If you can have that in your corner and have people love you its remarkable at my age I walk around very happy," said Mr. Durante.
Just before the kids left on spring break they made him a card, telling him how much he means to them.
"Every time they give me one I cry," Durante said, "I am humbled by I gotten here. Sometimes I don't realize as a man up in years that I can be loved as I am by 6th, 7th, 8th grade students. They just greet me well.
Sometimes in life it's the smallest things that have the greatest impact. Who knew a smile could be so contagious.