By Reg Chapman

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – For the past three months, 80-year-old Jim Goebel, a school bus driver in Mahtomedi, has been out battling leukemia.

When the call came in Wednesday night that he was cancer free, his friends got together to plan something special in his honor.

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For three months they’ve been without Goebel, and on Thursday they grabbed balloons and drove their buses for a parade in honor of the man most say is like a true father figure.

“He drives a special needs bus and his kids just adore him,” said Mary Jo Edmondson, a manager with the company.

Outside Goebel’s house, he greeted each bus and its driver with a smile and a wave. He said he could feel the love of each bus as it passes by.

But no one missed Jim more than his buddies, who he has driven to school for the past several years.

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Jim Goebel (credit: CBS)

“I love to see them, I’ve handled special needs kids the whole 15 years I’ve driven. That’s all I’ve handled,” said Goebel.

Family says the phone call Jim got last night has him ready to get back and doing what he loves.

“The first thing he said is ‘when can I go back to work’ when he was first diagnosed. He’s 80 years old and he wants to get back to work,” said Bob Goebel, his son.

In all his years working, not driving a bus, Jim has always had near perfect attendance. “This is the most that I’ve ever missed work ever,” he said.

Goebel said he feels blessed and can’t wait to return to all the fun.

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Goebel and his wife Roberta have been married for 59 years. They have two children and five grandchildren. His coworkers raised $1,000 to help with expenses. They too are looking forward to his return to work soon.

Reg Chapman