SEVIER CO., Tenn. (WATE) — This is the story of a young man who defied all odds and “shot for the moon” to make his dreams come true.

In 2015, Andrew Webb-Buffington was brought to the Smoky Mountain Children’s Home (SMCH) campus, where he was expected to stay for 16 months. During his stay, he faced difficulty staying motivated and almost gave up on his education. However, staff members encouraged and challenged him to strive for success, which changed his life forever.

Fast forward to 2024, and Webb-Buffington’s life has turned positive. He is training to become an astronaut after graduating from the International Institute for Astronautical Sciences (IIAS). His focus of study has been on noctilucent cloud formations, and he has also become the first American to complete the PADI Astronaut Diver Distinctive Training, according to the Smoky Mountain Children’s Home.

Andrew gave back to SMCH by volunteering to speak at the Smoky Mountain Children’s Home, located at 449 McCarn Circle in Sevierville, on Wednesday, January 10, at 10:00 am. The event occurred in the Moffett Dining Hall and included SMCH staff members, residents, and the public. Click here to read the follow up story.