New van for father of NJ waitress who paid it forward

NORTH BRUNSWICK, N.J. (WPVI) -- An act of kindness by a waitress in New Jersey led to a new van for her ailing father, after her story first appeared on Action News.

Nearly five months ago a firefighter reached out to us, wanting to thank a young waitress for paying their bill after overhearing that one of them had been fighting a blaze for 12 hours.

Soon, they learned that her good deed came at a time when she was trying to raise money for her disabled father.

It was this past summer when Liz paid the bill for firefighters Paul Hullings and Tim Young.

Young went to Facebook to share her kindness with the world. That led to an outpouring of support for Liz's dad.

On Thursday, Action News caught up with the family of Liz Woodward. Her father, 62-year-old Steve Woodward, uses a wheelchair because of an aneurysm five years ago.

But, the family was in need of a wheelchair-accessible van, which he now has thanks to the donations that poured in. Liz's GoFundMe page has raised more than $85,000.

A specialty car company called Mobility Ventures heard about the Woodwards and generously donated a $50,000 MV-1, which has a retractable wheelchair ramp built right in to it.

"We've witnessed an outpouring of love from over 125 countries and thousands of people have shown their support. It's absolutely mind-blowing, incredible," Liz said.

"We're trying to show other people that pay it forward. Help other people who need the help," said Paul Hullings of the Hainesport Fire Department.

Steve Woodward says he likes it, but says "I don't think they're going to let me get behind the wheel!"

"Not yet, dad," Liz said, "But you'll be a great passenger.

"We thank each and every one of you that are a part of it. We've touched your lives, you're touching ours. And the answer is love," said Beth Woodward.

With Steve's illness and losing their home to foreclosure, the Woodwards have had a rough few years. But they say this gift will be a life-changer.

Except for doctor appointments Steve has only been out of the house twice in the last several years. Now he can look forward to going to the store, to dinner and the movies to see Star Wars!

All the money raised will go toward Steve's care.
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