Changing one life at a time, including his own


Aidan assists an orphan by passing him water in a game

30,000 feet above ground, awaiting a new life, a nine year old sits on a plane traveling to Cincinnati, OH with his parents and eight siblings. More than half of his life was spent in Monterrey, Mexico.

Between third and fourth grade, Aidan Guckenberger traveled 1,300 miles away from the elementary school he grew up in when his parents made the decision to move to Cincinnati, OH after they were promoted to become Executive Directors of Back2Back Ministries.

His parents Todd and Beth Guckenberger wanted to give back to where they are from. That is why his parents started Back2Back Ministries. Back2Back is an international Christian non-profit organization that is dedicated to housing, nursing and supporting orphans. Back2Back is now in Africa, India, Mexico, Haiti and the Dominican Republic.

In the summer of 1992 his parents had free summers and wanted to make the most of them. For four consecutive years, they went to Queretaro as missionaries, doing odd jobs, helping the church, and working on the same painting job year after year.

“We were painting the walls of this church from blue to green, but I remember from the year before we painted them from green to blue,” Beth Guckenberger said. “We wanted a change.”

They then hopped on a taxi and took a group of church kids to a nearby orphanage. They spent the next time helping and playing with the children living at the orphanage. The faces on the kids shifted something inside them and at that moment they knew this was what they were supposed to do.

“We had no kids and two salaries, so we lived off one salary and saved up for an entire year,” Beth said. “We then decided we were moving to Mexico”

Moving to Mexico allowed the Guckenbergers to change the lives of the orphans who lived there, providing opportunities they never even imagined of, making them feel less forgotten, and guiding them to college.

Aidan’s parents wanted him to be born in the United States. With worry of having the baby at any point, because Beth was far into her pregnancy, they drove all the way from Monterey to Cincinnati to have Aidan.

Not many people leave the country where they grew up in and start over. This was a tough transition for Aidan Guckenberger and his family.

“It was very safe where we lived but I was ready for a new beginning. I was very excited to meet new people and experience new things,” Guckenberger said.

Normally making new friends at a new location isn’t the easiest, especially when the only people he knew were his family. Within the first week, he signed up to play football and that is where he made his first friend. It wasn’t hard for him to make more.

“Back in 4th grade we both wanted to play quarterback and so we bonded instantly, he ended up playing running back and we have been friends ever since,” Senior and friend Noah Spencer said.

Even though they moved, they still made a trip back almost every year. Aidan has been back two times for his brother’s adoption.

“We adopted my brother when I was 12, it was difficult adjusting to my new brother,” Guckenberger said. “He had a rough background so it was hard to connect with him right away.”

His parents wanted to connect Back2Back with the school, so Kings High School started going down on President’s weekend six years ago.

“I didn’t go the first year because I was too young, but I went the next 5 years”, Guckenberger said. “It is something I look forward to every year and I will definitely miss it”

On top of the service, they also do other things that improve the little kids time there. They take them on trips to the mall, go to amusement parks, make them food, go to playgrounds and play sports every night.

There are set times during the day when the kids are at school, and the students are working, but after dinner, they play with the orphans.

“My favorite experience was this past year when we were doing this obstacle course that we had to have a partner for,” Guckenberger said. I was with an orphan and we were losing in the race. He pulled me aside and told me in Spanish that if I don’t pick it up he was going to trade me,”

The relationships that are built down in Mexico are everlasting for both the orphans and the missionaries. The service is so much easier to do when the reward is the biggest smile you’ve ever seen on an 8-year-olds face.

“I love and respect what my parents do, but unless I feel like I am called to do this with my life. I don’t know if this is what I want to pursue,” Guckenberger said.