Hudson -- The approaching summer vacation means a few months of academia-free relaxation for students and staffers while hanging out with family and friends.

But for one district staff member, the approaching vacation means it is time to give back.

The way Dan Filipowicz gives back is by flipping burgers and grilling hot dogs at his sixth annual cookout for Hudson students who have been passengers on his bus during the year.

The reason "Mr. Dan," as he's known to his riders, does this is to give back to the students, he said.

"I enjoy spending time with my kids, and the parents have been very generous to me over the years," Dan said. "I don't do this to get something back in return. It's just my way of showing appreciation to the students who ride my bus."

The cookouts are an event Dan and his wife, Rebecca, have enjoyed doing since they were married, Dan said.

The couple sponsors a cook out for both his high school and younger district students.

Dan, who has driven a bus for Hudson for 10 years, had more than 20 high schoolers attend a May 18 cookout, he said.

On June 1, he'll have a cookout for his younger riders at the Cascade Park pavilion from 2 to 4 p.m. Fliers have been passed out to students and parents.

"We so enjoy doing them," Rebecca said of the cookouts. "Dan loves these kids and he just wants them to know how much they mean to him. He thought it would be a fun thing to do."

Dan and Rebecca purchase the food, while the parents are invited to bring a selection of beverages, side dishes or desserts. But the extras are not required.

"The invitation is open to anyone who has ridden Mr. Dan's bus to come and say 'hi,'" Dan said. "Families are welcome. I enjoy meeting them."

The couple, who live in Akron, enjoy the camaraderie with the students, siblings and parents, Rebecca said. Several of the students have brothers or sisters who have ridden Dan's bus, she added.

"He knows their families and the names of the dogs and all the other siblings who have been with that family," said Rebecca, who wears an apron with "Mrs. Dan" emblazoned on it at the cookouts. "It's just a nice community thing and giving back to the people and we enjoy doing that."

Rebecca called her husband's riders "good kids."

"He really enjoys seeing them throughout the whole year and its been a really fun thing for him and the kids," Rebecca said.

And while Dan enjoys the fun enjoyed by all at the cookouts, he takes his job as a bus driver serious.

"I thank God I'm a bus driver," Dan said. "I love my job and I hope to finish out my career doing what I'm doing right now."


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