POSTED: Wednesday, February 19, 2013 --- 12:45 a.m.
Duke and Thomas Vander Galien have been a dynamic duo in the world of Randolph High School athletics.
The two propelled the Rockets’ football team this season, while Duke has helped lead the way for the Randolph basketball squad’s 19-2 record, but the story of these hometown heroes begins on the other side of the world in Kenya.
Both boys came from different homes, and were in a placed in a small African orphanage at a young age. However, all of that changed when they crossed paths with the Vander Galien family.
"My son, Jeremy, and Mandy (his wife) got married and they decided to go to Kenya to work at the orphanage," Kelly Vander Galien said. "They asked my husband and I if we would like to adopt Duke and Thomas. After a lot of thought and prayer, we decided that that's what we were called to do."
Thomas and Duke knew no English when they came to America 9 years ago. After some time, the Vander Galiens put the two in local sports programs to help break down the cultural barrier.
"I didn't know what football was," Thomas Vander Galien said. "At first I was afraid to play because of the tackling, but after a while I started to like it. I don't know what I would do without it!"
The two boys have been back to Kenya multiple times since they arrived in the United States in 2003, and hope to make an impact one day in their home country.
"I was blessed to come here and have a chance in life," Thomas said. "I want to go back and make a difference."