The Times West Virginian

December 24, 2012

Chase your dreams

‘Family and God are important’ with Vandettas

By Debra Minor Wilson
Times West Virginian

FAIRMONT — Funny story about how Kimberly Satterfield met her future husband, Carlo Vandetta.

She was dating him even before she met him.

Or so she’d tell friends.

Carlo had just moved across the street. She’s not sure why she did this, but she started telling people they were dating.

“They’d say, ‘Do you know him?’ And I’d say, ‘Yes, we’re dating.’ And then one of those people actually introduced us.”

A few years after that, they got married in May 1987. She graduated from Fairmont State, where she obtained a medical technology degree, bachelor of science in allied health administration and recently, a registered nursing degree.

Carlo is a service representative for a lab company.

Each lost a brother in tragic car accidents, she said.

“That was devastating but it brought everyone closer together. You don’t take anything for granted after that.”

The heart of their family are their sons, Chris, 18, a senior at East Fairmont High, and Gianni, 15, in eighth grade at East Junior High.

They keep their parents busy. Both are active in sports, Chris with lacrosse and wrestling, and Gianni with football, wrestling and basketball.

Not even the most devoted parents can be everywhere all the time.

“We do a lot of carpooling with close friends and family,” Kimberly said.

“And we take turns. If one parent can’t do it, the other does. It all works out well.”

Chris and Gianni are close, she said.

“I raised them Catholic. Chris graduated from Fairmont Catholic. He went to West Fairmont for lacrosse, then Notre Dame for two years and now he’s at East. Gianni went to Fairmont Catholic through sixth grade.”

Like most Americans, the tragedy last week in Connecticut in which 20 children were gunned down weighs heavily on her heart.

“I agree with President Obama when he said, ‘Children are like pieces of our hearts walking outside of us.’ That’s exactly what it feels like.”

Faith and family are important to her, she added.

“Chris and Gianni are very close brothers. They look out for each other.

“They play sports together. I always told them that they are here for each other. When Gianni was born, I told Chris, ‘This is your baby.’ I let him have the responsibility to help care for him.

“Example, tonight Gianni called me that Chris wasn’t home from school yet.

“They worry about each other. They have each other’s back.”

With two teen boys in the house, you might expect them to be polar opposites in personality, resulting a lot of bickering. Right?

Wrong.

“I don’t allow fighting,” she said. “I know they’re teens, but that’s not happening. Sorry. No fighting. I don’t let anything start, either. If it looks like something’s going to start up, I tell them to cool down and discuss it. They do make up. They don’t like to hurt each other’s feelings.”

And they’re sensitive about other people, too, she said.

“Gianni was talking about this little boy whose house burned down. ‘We have to do something,’ he said.

“I told him we could collect donations as a community-service project for the church.”

“Go after your dreams,” she tells her sons.

“And I stress education, education, education. You can’t learn enough. They’re always reading and studying different things.

“Chris has studied several languages, mostly self-taught. And he loves to write. When he was in seventh grade at Fairmont Catholic, he did an article for the Times on ‘Extreme Home Makeover’ on Dec. 12, 2007.”

They do not have to fish around for compliments from their parents. Their list of accomplishments would make any mom or dad proud.

“They have to compete to have a 4.0 or better. Chris takes college classes and has a 4.5. Gianni usually has a 4.0.

“You can’t ask for better than that.”

She and her husband don’t force them to study, she said.

“They want to do it. They’re the ones check to make sure they have everything turned in or checking their grades. I don’t have to follow up. They always stay on top of their studies.”

Still, she does have to be the mom.

“They call me ‘military mom.’ I tell them, ‘It’s time to do this or that.’ You have to make time for everything during the day, like making time for dinner.

“We have this ritual where we sit down for dinner and discuss how school went that day. Even if it’s just 15 minutes for a sandwich, we’re checking in with each other.

“If there’s a problem, then we can keep things open and honest as possible.”

Chris has nothing but praise for his family.

“She went to nursing school for three years,” he said. “And we stuck together. That says a lot about family resilience and unity.

“Any other family would have been tough to stick together through something like that, but we all did our best. We all chipped in. Mom graduated and got a job.

“That’s important. Family and God are important.”

 “I feel truly blessed to have such a wonderful husband, two handsome boys, and family and friends in my life,” Kimberly Vandetta said.

“Family is about loving, supporting and praying for one another and the community, and also giving thanks for each day.”

Email Debra Minor Wilson at dwilson@timeswv.com.