After Kevin Ott pulled 12 people out of danger during Hurricane Ian, they reunited to celebrate Thanksgiving together, and now they are doing the same for Christmas.
This was a special Christmas celebration with much hardship leading up to it. Having lots of family and kids gathered for the holidays is something many of us may take for granted, but not Kevin Ott and his loved ones.
“My dad is a big superhero,” Ott said. “He’s the man everybody would love. Shout out to Superman.”
“Thanks to Kevin, I’m able to be here for Christmas,” said Mary Ann Dineen. “I’m also going to be able to see my new grandbaby born in February.”
During Ian, Ott made sure his children didn’t lose both their grandparents.
“I was so much dreading this holiday after losing my husband last holiday,” Dineen said. “But this has given me a new lease on life, that life does go on and you need to make the best of it. And with the help of all of these extended family and friends, you will do just that.”
On this second holiday, there are a few new faces, people who couldn’t make it for Thanksgiving. Kevin Ott saved Sam Zemaitis, who helped Ott save a mom, dad and their toddler in the process.
“My angel came down the street in a boat, Kevin, and you know, I screamed bloody murder,” Zemaitis said. “‘Hey, get over here! Get over here! Get over here!’ He said, ‘I can only take two.’ He says to take the baby and the mommy and just let people know I’m back here.”
Ott still found a way to take everyone on his way to grandma’s house.
“The baby’s good,” Zemaitis said. “He gives me a big hug and a kiss every morning. So I got a new friend for life.”
“It’s a real blessing to see all my kids together with our survivors, to get to meet who we fixed and who we helped,” Ott said.
“This is our new normal,” said Kristin Millar. “Kevin and family, they are part of our family. They come to our school functions.”
“It feels, like, natural,” Dineen said. “It feels normal, wouldn’t you say? Like we’re supposed to be here. It’s not forced interaction or anything. Yeah, it feels like we’re with the right family.”
Whether they are related by blood is irrelevant to Ott. These people call themselves an extended family. Even his daughter and her mother, who just received a kidney transplant, met the extended family this Christmas.
“This year was extra special because my mom is fighting still, but she’s doing awesome now,” Alexandria said. “My dad, who survived all the crazy things that he did this year, and now we’re just kind of celebrating all the good lessons that we have and different memories that we have.”
“This is like a new family I’ve had,” Ott said. “And if I didn’t show my kids, all these other people would never know who they are. You know, it’s not just a person we picked up. It’s a person that now we get to share family times, dinners, phone calls, emails, Facebook… we get everything together. So, it makes a big difference in my kids’ lives.”
The atmosphere at their Christmas dinner put everyone there in the holiday spirit.