Good Samaritans are angels in disguise, helping when and where they are needed and with no questions asked. People enjoy reading stories that warm their hearts and offer a glimpse of compassion that humans are capable of giving. Donations, acts of kindness, and anonymous gifts are ways Samaritans rally to help those in need. Not all people are fortunate enough to have a roof over their heads or a few hot meals every day, but these folks offer a chance at meeting those needs. Hardships and situations happen, and sometimes it may be out of the person’s control, just ask Tony Berard.
Pedaling in the Snow
Tony Berard calls snowy Michigan his home. He was seen by a driver passing by named Jason Kapoor. Jason was driving down the highway and saw 50-year old Tony pedaling away down the road. Having recently heard that a man on a bicycle was hit, and the fact that it was freezing and snowing, Jason pulled over to the side, and asked Tony if he wouldn’t mind a ride to wherever he was going. Explaining the situation, Jason convinced Tony to get in, and they were off.
Jason discovered that Tony was bicycling down the highway, seven miles to be exact, from his apartment in Waterford to a grocery store in town. He worked nights as a stocker for extra money. Jason decided to press the issue a bit and ask why he was riding a bike so far, as the weather could be cold and the highway very dangerous. Turns out the Tony has been riding his bicycle as his only mode of transportation, to and from work for the last five years. Tony went on to say that he not only biked to the grocery store, but also to his day job, eleven miles away where he tutored math to students at Oakland Community College.
Tony explained his situation, revealing that he was married, and that his wife was now physically and mentally ill. She had been a community counselor before her ailments put her out of work many years ago. Tony decided he would take care of her, and be their sole provider, and began working the two jobs. He explained he had no car because vehicles are very expensive, not to mention insurance, fuel, repairs, and maintenance, and that was just not an option right now for Tony.
The Power of Social Media
Jason and Tony reached the grocery store where Tony worked, and Jason gave him his number, stating that if he ever needed a ride to please contact him. Jason works as a leaser at the Chrysler Dealership in town, and when he got home he had to mention Tony’s crazy story to a few friends on Facebook. Comments and suggestions began popping up, with one suggestion in particular to start a GoFundMe campaign, easily set up and accessible on Facebook and online. Jason did just that, hoping for 1,000 dollars to hopefully get Tony an inexpensive car he could take instead bicycling down the highway.
Within hours and to the pleasantly surprised Jason, the 1,000-dollar goal was surpassed, and several days later the balance of the GoFundMe was at over 18,000 dollars, and growing as donations poured in after seeing Jason’s story about Tony the bicycler in snowy Michigan. Jason took Tony to the Chrysler Dealership he worked at, and handed over the keys to a shiny and new Chrysler Town and Country white minivan, and there was just enough money left for gas. Tony had received two other donated cars prior to this one from family members, but he said they were quite old and in need of repairs as they kept breaking down, and Tony didn’t have the funds to afford such upkeep and had to let them go.
Stepping Up to Help
Gone are the days where Tony has to worry about repairs, or limiting his food purchases as they had to fit in the basket of his bike. This new vehicle also gives his wife and family members peace of mind because Tony no longer has to bike down a dangerous highway in freezing weather. He can journey warm and safe to his jobs, and anywhere else he needs to go.
Jason Kapoor is not the only person who stepped up to help Tony out. After Tony’s story had gotten out on Facebook and to the local community, good Samaritans appeared from every corner. A local restaurant has offered to pay the entire first year or insurance for Tony’s new minivan, saving him the cost. Other locals and community members have also rallied together and have been dropping off gift cards for Tony and his wife after hearing their story.
Tony states that he still can’t believe all this is happening. A man who bike miles back and forth and never asked a soul for a ride now can take his new Chrysler minivan to anywhere he needs to go. Work, grocery shopping, and appointments just became much easier for Tony. Not to mention the time savings by driving instead of biking. He can zip right home to be with his wife in minutes time, and all because of the giving hearts of a community that came together to help am man and his wife in need.
Helping Others in Need
Tony’s story is not the only one out there. Every year people join causes to help others in need, just as this community in Michigan did. Good people with warm hearts like Jason Kapoor and his community are wonderful examples and will hopefully encourage others to do something kind. Jason hopes to keep in touch with Tony, making sure he will be okay. Tony on the other hand is excited and appreciative, saying he will never take any of this for granted, and how his life was just made so much better by a bunch of strangers. Learn from Jason Kapoor that one act of kindness can change the life of a person for the better, for the giver and the receiver.