A young waitress by the name of Liz Woodward did not have a clue that a random good deed of hers would boomerang back! She decided to do something for the two firemen who stepped into the diner to catch breakfast after dealing with a terrible warehouse fire the previous night. She ended up paying for their meal to show them her gratitude. She had no idea at all that this act of kindness would become viral and change things for her entire family.
The Graveyard Shift
The night in question happened in 2015. For Liz Woodward, it started as a regular day but became more than that. She had been working her waiting job at the 130 Diner in Delran, New Jersey.
A Big Fire
Two firefighters then walked in. Liz noticed that they looked exhausted, and one of the two even went over to ask her for the largest cup of coffee possible. The local news had reported on a big fire in North Brunswick, so Liz guessed that this pair of men just got there from a very big firefight.
The terrible fire tore through a North Brunswick warehouse and called for mass evacuations in the area. It took 12 hours to put it out, and these firemen had been there from the very beginning. They were, of course, very tired. You can imagine how surprised they must have been after seeing the note on their bill.
A Touching Note
This was what Liz wrote on the bill: “Your breakfast is on me today — Thank you for all that you do; for serving others & for running into the places everyone else runs away from. No matter your role, you are courageous, brave, and strong… Thank you for being bold and badass everyday! Fueled by fire and driven by courage — what an example you are. Get some rest.”
This gesture must have felt like an oasis in the middle of the desert for these firemen. It was a great thing to see after they spent 12 hours on the fire. They were grateful to get something like this. They thanked her and then walked out happily.
Sharing Her Story
Liz did not expect anything else to happen, but good deeds do come when you don’t expect it. The firemen felt touched by this small act of kindness on Liz’s end. They even took to Facebook to talk about it and encouraged other people to drop by 130 Diner, which was where they had an incredible experience that morning.
He Uncovered Something
Paul Hullings, one of the firemen, felt overwhelmed with gratitude and wanted to return the favor. He took it upon himself to look up more information about the waitress online. He couldn’t believe what he found…
A Rough Patch
He found something heartbreaking when he was finally able to locate the Facebook page Liz used. He found out that she was actually going through a very rough time. What could be going on?
Meet Liz Woodward
At first glance, you’d probably assume that Liz Woodward is just like any other young person. Of course, she was incredibly kind, but her life and history were not exactly extraordinary. Times weren’t easy for them at all at the moment.
However, it is noticeable that she had a close relationship with Steve, her dad. He was a man who had several passions in life. He was a bass player in a bluegrass band when he was younger and liked to ride his motorbike around town.
At one point, Steve also helped run the PHH Mortgage Disaster Recovery Department. He was a big supporter of the Philadelphia Phillies and loved his pepper-jack grilled cheese sandwiches. However, his life took a detour after something took place in 2010.
A Terrible Incident
The entire family got the shock of their life after Steve suffered a brain aneurysm in 2010. Steve was a fighter and survived this incident, but the sad news is that he became a quadriplegic because of it.
Things Were Getting Worse
Before the aneurysm ruptured, the entire family already had it rough thanks to the recession of 2008. They were all having a difficult time with Steve losing his job and becoming unable to provide for the family. Needless to say, the ruptured aneurysm made things that much worse for the lot.
The First Year
His movement was restricted, and Steve had to spend a year in and out of both nursing homes and hospitals. His first year was maybe the most difficult. He could not do anything by himself. It must have been challenging to go from an active person to immobile all of sudden.
Getting Somewhat Better
After the incident, he was no longer an independent man and needed someone to walk him through each task. He had a hard time getting used to his new circumstance. Soon enough, he was able to make progress with his family supporting him throughout the entire process.
Thanks to them, he was able to be more lucid and even relearned how to speak and swallow. There was one person who never left his side and played a huge role in this. It was a good thing that he always had Liz and her siblings to look after him when they had time.
By His Side
However, it was his wife Beth who always stayed by his side. His spouse of 25 years became his crutch in a way and kept true to her vow to stand by Steve for better or worse, in illness or in health.
She Couldn’t Do It All
On top of this, she still had household responsibilities and accomplished them while looking after him. There is no doubt that Steve would not have progressed this much without her. Even though his progress made his family feel hopeful, there was something that Beth wanted for him but could not afford. What was it?
The entire family had to accept that Steve would never walk again. However, they wanted him to have the opportunity to get to and from places on his own. What could they do to make that happen?
It Wasn’t Possible
Even though Steve already had a wheelchair and could make his way around their case, they all wanted him to have the ability to go outside as well. There was a customized special vehicle that could help him with this, but the Woodward family could not afford its $60,000 to $80,000 price tag. They could not even shell out the money to buy a second-hand unit for half the original price.
The entire family, of course, wanted to find the money to buy a wheelchair accessible van for the patriarch. Liz was aware that it was going to be hard to do on their own, which is why she opted to try GoFundMe.
She made a page on this site to help her father and laid out the details of his current condition. After putting it up, the only thing they could do was to hope for the best.Would they raise enough money to help their dad?
All The Details
The page came with many photos of Steve and his family as well as details of everything they had to endure after the incident happened. They also added an explanation about how this special vehicle was going to improve the quality of his life. On top of this, they recounted a time when a van like that helped them out.
In 2012, Liz’s youngest sister Catherine graduated. That was the moment they realized how nice it would be if Steve could go out of the house once more. They wanted him to be present at her graduation and got a rental wheelchair accessible van.
Everyone saw how much happier Steve was on that day. After all, it was the first time he got to see other members of their clan since they gathered to celebrate the graduation of his youngest daughter. They saw that he was noticeably happy for the first time, and they wanted it to happen more often. Steve got to laugh and swap childhood stories with other relatives, and this would not have happened without the special van. These moments were short-lived, however, because the family was struck by yet another tragedy.
It Got Worse
Thanks to his condition, Steve lost his job and was rendered much less mobile. You might think that it could not get worse than this, but it did 4 years after the incident. In 2014, their home got foreclosed, which meant they had to move. They did not have any other choice but to relocate somewhere smaller.
Something Was Coming
It made things more difficult for the family since he needed to navigate a very tight space. Even though it seemed like there was nothing they could do to improve things, Liz stayed steadfast and hopeful. Despite this, there was no way for her to guess what was about to come her way!
When Tim Young, the other firefighter Liz encountered at the diner, found out about their situation, he wanted to offer her a helping hand. On social media, he posted a link to her GoFundMe page and wrote, “Turns out, the young lady who gave us a free meal is the one that could use the help…” At that point, the fundraiser was still a long way away from its goal of $80,000. Tim hoped that he could help them out a little by sharing the GoFundMe link. He did not have any idea about how people would respond!
Before he posted the link to the GoFundMe campaign, they already raised a significant $25,000. This might be a lot of money, but it was still very far from $80,000. Things changed when his post went viral!
After only three days, the donations went up to $56,000. There was even a generous person who made an incredible $5,000 donation! Liz was overwhelmed by this response, but there was more to come.
It did not take long before the media covered this story. After all, it was a touching and inspiring one. A few days after Tim posted about her story, major news outlets such as Today, Buzzfeed, and ABC News ate it up and spread it further.
Helping The Family
In no time at all, camera crews went to the diner to take photos of both Liz and the firemen. They were all invited for an interview with ABC News. The attention, of course, helped the Woodward family. We are sure that Liz was surprised when she finally saw what was going on.
An Amazing Surprise
It was not that long ago when reaching their goals seemed like a pipe dream. However, Liz’s act of kindness led to a media frenzy that she did not expect. Upon looking at the page, Liz saw that they reached $86,500 already!
A Big Impact
She thanked everyone who helped restore her faith in humanity. The young woman said, “Look for those opportunities because they are everywhere. You can make a difference — it doesn’t always have to be an elaborate production or effort- it’s always the little things that have the greatest impact.”
A Moving Donation
Before she could even start looking for a wheelchair accessible van, the story caught the interest of Mobility Ventures. It is a company that makes customized vehicles for handicapped clients. Liz was surprised that they wanted to pay it forward by doing an act of kindness for her and the rest of the family. The company gave them a brand new MV-1, their latest wheelchair accessible van model. On top of that, one of the most popular shows on the planet contacted Liz and requested an interview with her!
Liz Got A Call
Steve was immobile by the aneurysm, so he often passed the time by watching TV. One of the shows that he likes to watch was The Ellen DeGeneres Show. His wife said that he often chuckles when it was on! We are sure that they were surprised when the crew got in touch with Liz.
It felt like a dream come true when they got invited to visit LA to appear on the talk show. They discussed what happened that day in the diner and the way the firefighters discovered their problems. By the end of the segment, the generous talk show host gave them something that brought tears to their eyes.
They Kept Coming
Ellen asked the firemen if they went to 130 Diner often. After hearing that they do, the talk show host shocked them by letting them know that Shutterfly, a personalized photo gifts company, paid for their meals there for the next 5 years! However, there was more. Ellen also said that Shutterfly was touched by what Liz did. That was the moment she whipped out a check for $20,000 courtesy of the company!
Even though Steve went through a very rough time after the ruptured aneurysm, he got to experience plenty of joy and happiness thanks to the kindness of Liz. They were able to buy the van he wanted and travel together! His quality of life truly improved thanks to his generous daughter. Unfortunately, Steve passed away due to his condition in 2019. Even though he is no longer with us, the Woodward family was very happy that he was able to live to the fullest in his twilight years.
There is no doubt that Liz Woodward has come a long way from where she used to be. She does not work at 130 Diner any longer but serves as the director of agent services at a realtor agency. She is now married to a man called Tommy as well. The two of them settled down, tied the knot, and welcomed a lovely child. We are just glad to hear that the little one was able to meet her grandfather Steve before he passed away.