RAVENSWOOD - Kenneth and Vanese Cedar beat seemingly overwhelming odds to earn degrees from West Virginia University at Parkersburg this spring.
However, overcoming challenges is a way of life for them.
Kenneth, 48, and Vanese, 50, have cared for 57 children over the years, including two biological sons who are now grown. Roman is 25 and Kyle is 23. The others have included foster and adopted children as well as some for whom they assumed guardianship.
They believe they are just doing what God wants.
"We are nothing special," Vanese said.
They now share their comfortable, spacious house with six children. They adopted Justin, 18, Heaven, 12, and Nathan, 11. They are guardians for Garrett Trulock, 16, and Patch Boggs, 14. A sixth is a foster child whose name is not to be published.
"We are Christian people," Kenneth said. "When we think we've had enough, God tells us there is more to do."
Kenneth and Vanese agree that the rewards outweigh the challenges involved in caring for the kids. Aside from loving them and taking them to church, they teach them life skills from cooking and personal hygiene to gardening and preserving food.
Their seven acres offer plenty of space for growing potatoes, tomatoes, peppers, broccoli, corn and beans.
Play is also incorporated into the schedule with swimming in a backyard pool, shooting basketball and playing volleyball.
Their busy lives became more challenging when Kenneth lost his job in 2009 as Century Aluminum shut down.
The couple faced the problem by heading to college as a team. They took turns studying and taking care of things at home. It became a contest to see who could get the best grades. Sons Roman and Kyle, who live nearby on adjoining property, adjusted their schedules and pitched in to help with the kids.