The saying “good things happen to good people” rings true in this heartwarming story.
Tim Young and Paul Hullings are both firefighters who recently stopped by the Route 130 Diner in Delran, New Jersey after working tirelessly for 12 hours during an overnight shift.
They just so happened to have Liz Woodward for their waitress that morning, and she overheard their conversation about their courageous battle extinguishing a warehouse fire. When the two firefighters came to pay for their meal, they found a pleasant surprise. Instead of being handed a bill, Young and Hullings were given a note.
The two men thanked their waitress for her kind gesture and posted the message on Facebook shortly after with the comment:
“Such a selfless and kind act. I definitely urge my friends to make a trip out and support the business, and if Liz happens to be your waitress, tip big.”
Later on, the firefighters learned that Woodward’s father, Steve, is quadriplegic and that she had created a GoFundMe campaign in December to fund a wheelchair-accessible vehicle for him. Her father has been paralyzed for five years, and she hopes to be able to raise enough money for the vehicle in order to take him places. A post on the campaign page read.
“Weddings, funerals, celebrations, and graduations… he’s missed them all.”
“Family picnics on 4th of July or out to park to watch fireworks (we’ve always watched them out of his hospital window.) We’ve shared everything with him on cell phones in videos and photographs since he couldn’t get there.”
The firefighters encouraged people on Facebook to donate to her crowdfund. One of them, Young, posted on his page:
“Turns out, the young lady who gave us a free meal is really the one that could use the help…”
In a matter of days, her page had exploded with generous donations totaling over $70,000 — more than the $17,000 cost of a wheelchair accessible van.
Woodward and her family are grateful to the two firefighters. The waitress never expected anything in return when she paid their tab that fateful morning:
“All I did was pay for their breakfast. I didn’t expect anything more than a smile.
“It goes to show that you just have to be kind to each other and that even the smallest gesture can change a life.”
A few weeks after, firefighters Young and Hullings met Woodward and her father at their home. They even brought him Phillies baseball tickets, the first event he would attend outside his house aside from doctor’s appointments for the past five years. Woodward told ABC WPVI:
“The message is to be kind to each other, to pay it forward when you can, that even the smallest gestures can change somebody’s life.”