For the prose and delivery of a tribute speech written for one of his high school classes during the last school year, 16-year-old Hunter DeRensis received a near perfect score: 119 out of 120.
But ask Hunter or any of his siblings about the subject of the speech and they'll say their father, Mike DeRensis, 53, of Altoona, achieves the same score when it comes to all that he does as a parent.
"His entire life, he's put my interests in front of almost everything," Hunter wrote in the speech. "That really makes me feel loved."
Mirror photo by Gary M. Baranec
Mike DeRensis, 53, of Altoona was chosen as the winner of this year’s Father’s Day Makeover, sponsored by the Altoona Mirror.
So, to show him how much they love him back, Hunter and his sister, Heather DeRensis Wilt, 30, nominated their dad for this year's Altoona Mirror sponsored Father's Day Makeover. Chosen the winner, Mike received a day of relaxation on June 12 and a barrage of free gifts and services from local businesses. Hunter and Heather also came along for the ride.
Mike has been a truck driver for U.S. Food Service for almost 15 years, and sometimes works up to 60 hours a week.
"My dad has always been a hard worker," Hunter wrote in his submission. "His entire life, he's put his job in front of everything, because he knows how important it is."
What the father got
* Altoona Curve - four Diamond Club tickets and the opportunity to throw out the first pitch ($40)
* The Summit Tennis & Athletic Club - Three-month membership ($120)
* J.C.Penney - gift certificate ($250)
* Wise Eyes - prescription sunglasses ($450)
* Jethro's - gift certificate ($20)
* Razor's Edge - Cut, color and take-home products ($140)
* Dorman's - Citizen solar-powered watch ($299)
* Say It With Sweets - Half a dozen cupcakes and gift certificate ($31)
Heather said as both a laborer and a family man, Mike has always been "so selfless."
"He doesn't buy anything for himself, doesn't do anything for himself," she said. "He always puts us first. ...We've been really excited all week for this."
Mike's modesty and generosity became evident early on in the day. The first stop was People's Natural Gas Field, where Matt Hoover, assistant general manager for marketing and promotion for the Altoona Curve, granted Mike four Diamond Club tickets for any game during the season and the opportunity to throw out the first pitch.
"Bring anyone with you or bring yourself four times, it doesn't matter," he joked.
But Mike couldn't imagine going to a game without his family in tow. His son Michael, 28, even agreed to come down from his home in Queens, N.Y., to watch his dad's opening pitch.
Next, Mike was granted a three-month membership to The Summit Tennis & Athletic Club in Altoona by Chris Glunt, general manager. Mike seemed skeptical at first to how much he'd be able to use the gift.
"I get a workout every time I go to work," he said, adding that he regularly pushes cargo up and down ramps during the work day.
But after Glunt explained how there was a room devoted to functional training, with an emphasis on core stability, and how working with a trainer could help him strengthen his lower back and make him even better at his job, Mike seemed to be on board.
"It's functional training, stuff you can use in your everyday life," Glunt said. "When you do that kind of work, it's key to protect your lower back."
After a tour of the gym came a shopping spree at J.C. Penney in the Logan Valley Mall, where Heather made sure to help her father out.
"He doesn't have pants that fit because my mom just buys him clothes and throws them on the bed," she said.
Because he wears a uniform to work, Mike and Heather looked for casual attire to wear for family barbecues or movie nights. Diane Yeager, a suit-selling specialist at J.C. Penney, assisted them in picking out nicely fitting jeans and shorts, and shirts with patterns to give his plain wardrobe "a little more jazz."
Most things presented to Mike came with a "What do you think, Heather?" But halfway into the shopping spree, Mike picked out a peach-colored button-down shirt for himself, and was congratulated or how well the color complimented his complexion.
After some time in the dressing room figuring out sizes, Mike walked out with six shirts, jeans, Dockers, shorts, sneakers and ankle socks.
"I can't wait until you do a fashion show for Mom tonight," Heather said. "She's going to die."
Next, the makeover moved right across the street to Wise Eyes Optical in the Park Hills Plaza. Mike underwent an eye test and picked out a pair of prescription sunglasses, which he'd never had before.
"They'll help with driving and stuff," Mike said excitedly. "I usually just put the visor down and squint my eyes."
He was also glad that they'd be ready for him to pick up before the family goes on their annual vacation to Ocean City, Md., at the end of the month.
Lunch at Jethro's in Altoona was next on the makeover menu. Both Mike and Hunter were happy for the chance to order full steak dinners for lunch. At the table, conversation moved into what would happen next - when Mike would have his hair done at Razor's Edge Salon in Altoona, and more specifically, his facial hair.
"I just know I've had a mustache for a long time," Mike said, with the rest of the family believing it hasn't been shaved since 1980.
"It's hair, it'll grow back," Heather replied.
But stylist Mike DeGennaro let him keep his coveted facial hair, instead setting his sights on eliminating grey hair with a deep brown stain and trimming down his style to help tame Mike's curls.
When he was done, DeGennaro said Mike looked like "a new man."
"You look 10 years younger, you know that?" DeGennaro added.
"It felt good. It was a lot of hair," Mike replied.
After his new cut and color, Mike moved on to Dorman's Jewelry in Altoona, where he picked out a new solar-powered Citizen watch. Mike said though he hadn't been wearing a watch since he bought a cell phone, he'd be wearing one now.
"This has to be one of your better Father's Days," said Dorman's employee Karen Riger upon hearing all he had done earlier in the day.
At the last stop of the makeover, Sharon Ebersole promised that this would be the "best part" of his day. She presented him with a half-dozen gourmet cupcakes and a gift certificate. Mike's selflessness again shone through when he picked out just one flavor for himself - Banana Pudding - and let his kids pick the others.
On the way back to the Altoona Mirror office, Mike said the day was very enjoyable, and that getting all the attention was "easier than I thought it was going to be."
Hunter seemed glad to hear his hardworking dad say that.
"I never hear him use the word 'enjoyable,'" Hunter said. "At least not recently."
Mirror Staff Writer Beth Ann Downey is at 946-7520.