By Joanna Becket
A yellow school bus has been barreling east along highway 401 by 7:30 a.m. every morning this week with Rome Dorval at the wheel.
Dorval is shuttling competitors in the 2012 Canadian Junior Men’s and Women’s Curling Championships from the Fairfield Inn & Suites in Belleville where they’re staying, to two locations in Napanee where they’re competing.
The games are taking place at the Strathcona Paper Centre and the Napanee & District Curling Club and wrap up on Feb. 12.
The fact that Dorval’s an avid curler makes this assignment that much more appealing.
“I belong to the Napanee & District Curling Club and I’ve been curling for five years, so I’m right in my element,” he said. “I’m driving the buses which I enjoy plus I’m meeting people in a sport I enjoy. So I’ve got a big smile on my face,” he said.
Dorval, 70, was first inspired to drive a school bus by his daughter Julie. It’s a big change from his previous career as the owner of his own business in metal fabrication in Mississauga, Ont., a company he ran for 20 years.
“After we were living here and we adopted our daughter Julie, she got so excited about riding in a school bus that she turned me on to it,” said Dorval. “I enjoy driving and I’m very comfortable in the company of children, so driving a school bus is something I enjoy doing.”
Dorval now has his own route, picking up and dropping off elementary and high school students five days a week all over Lennox & Addington County.
“You get to know your kids,” he said, “And all the different stops. You feel much more comfortable when you have your own route.”
A temporary driver has taken over Dorval’s route while he’s providing the shuttle service.
Driving a school bus is only one of Dorval’s passions.
Now married to Judy Dorval, 67, the couple moved four years ago from Mississauga to Napanee to be closer to their own children and to fulfill their dream of someday living in an old stone house.
The Dorvals have six children and 12 grandchildren between them.
They also have two adopted foster children, Crissy, 23, and Julie, five.
Judy Dorval has been fostering children for more than 30 years, many of them with special needs.
Rome Dorval has been involved in fostering since the couple met eight years ago. The Dorvals married in 2006 and adopted Julie in 2009.
Both Crissy and Julie were foster children from birth. Judy Dorval is the only “mom” they’ve ever known.
Life is busy for the Dorvals. They’re the parents of a five-year-old with all that entails – pre-school classes, dance classes, birthday parties, family outings, and with Julie, medical appointments to monitor her care.
They also deliver meals-on-wheels in their community.
“There’s never a dull moment,” said Judy Dorval.
“I’m quite happy with our lives right now. It suits me well,” said Rome Dorval. “And we’re still fostering. We’re still enjoying the fostering.”