Michael McCullough got a sticker Thursday morning for walking his two children to Barber elementary for the fourth annual Father's Walk.
But the smiles on the faces of his daughter and son gave McCullough much more.
''I liked it because my dad is awesome,'' said his 9-year-old daughter Myca. His 6-year-old son Caiden beamed in agreement.
McCullough, a stay-at-home dad who walks his children to school every day, was among 30 fathers who signed in at Barber.
The event, which takes place across the country in the fall, is organized locally by FameFathers, a nonprofit organization that helps fathers bond with their children and develop parenting and mentoring skills.
This year, at least 30 schools in Summit County and 20 in Canton participated in the Father's Walk.
''I just came from Tallmadge, and they had over 500 dads,'' said Vera Thomas, project and logistics coordinator. ''One school [Dunbar Primary] had 500 dads.''
FameFathers received more than 7,000 requests for stickers.
Barber Principal Jenny Naidu said she was pleased with the turnout of dads.
Over the years, she has discovered the best way to involve fathers in education is to get them working on something with their hands rather than attending a PTA meeting.
''They don't want me to talk to them, and they don't want to hear all that good stuff,'' Naidu said. ''That's for the moms.''
So the school started a family game night that involves ''make-it and take-it'' crafts, which gets the otherwise reticent fathers engaged with their kids.
''Not a peep out of them, but the work is done and there's great interaction between father and son,'' Naidu said. ''It's amazing.''
Stewart Yarbrough works 12-hour shifts at the Rubbermaid plant in Mogadore, but he had Thursday off, so he was able to walk his stepchildren Denver, 11, and Cochise, 5, to school.
He said he didn't meet his own father until a few years ago.
''That's why I'm trying to be a good one myself,'' he said.
About 60 community leaders representing area governments, businesses and organizations welcomed the fathers as official greeters.
David Crook and Leslie Ruggles from the Summit County Prosecutor's Office were at Barber, along with former Ward 10 City Councilman Garry Moneypenny, who is running to regain his seat in November.
JaTice Shaw, branch manager of the FirstMerit Bank on Brittain Road and an East High School graduate, also greeted fathers. Shaw, the father of five children, still lives and works in the area.
''I live about 40 seconds from here,'' he said.
The 30th father to sign in Thursday was George Shook, who walked with his 7-year-old stepson Deacon Arnold.
Deacon reminds him every year about the Father's Walk.
''He makes me come every year,'' said Shook, proud of Deacon's enthusiasm for school. ''He goes every day and he's really a good kid.''
He signed in and sent Deacon off to class.
''Have fun in school, buddy,'' he said.
John Higgins can be reached at 330-996-3792 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Read the education blog at http://education.ohio.com/.