A quadriplegic Stanislaus County man received a fully restored van that was unveiled on Friday at Modesto Junior College.
The students and educators at the college spent the last three months fixing the van, pulling out dents and repainting it -- all donated time and labor for a man they’ve never met but wanted to help.
That hard work was all for Anthony De La Garza, an Empire man who had been paralyzed from the neck down for the past 15 years. Since then, he and his family relied solely on the van to take him to the park, to visit family and to go to church.
“This is more than we could dream or imagine. Our family we’re ecstatic, we’re happy,” Josie Halcon, Anthony’s mother said.
He can’t speak but he uses his eyes to communicate. When he first saw his van for the first time in months, a clear smile spread on his face.
FOX40 first introduced viewers to him in January, after a hit-and-run driver damaged his only means of transportation.
“He’s looking forward to going out of the house a lot. Going places. He’s very excited,” Halcon translated for Anthony.
Modesto Junior College and other benefactors decided to step in and brought the van back to life.
“He’s going to have some reliable transportation now and that’s really what it’s all about for me,” Jeff Beebe, a professor at MJC said.
De La Garza is grateful and looks forward to driving up to church in style, “I didn’t want to be the eyesore at the parking lot at church with my van anymore,” De La Garza joked.
Halcon told FOX40 that they had a GoFundMe account after the accident and that money will go towards the van’s maintenance.