New Jersey firefighters Paul Hulling and Tim Young had just finished a draining 12-hour shift battling an intense blaze at a warehouse in North Brunswick, New Jersey, when they headed to a local cafe for coffee.
The two exhausted men sat down at the Route 130 Diner, and Liz Woodward was their waitress.
Liz overheard the two men discuss their work and decided that she wanted to do something nice for both of them.
But the way they reacted to her kind gesture would leave Liz in tears.
Firefighters Tim Young and Paul Hullings stopped at the Route 130 Diner in Delran after an overnight shift containing a warehouse fire, according to WPVI.
The massive fire was seen for miles around. Getting it under control took a long time and a lot of sweat and tears.
After hearing about the difficult day, the kindhearted waitress wanted to show her appreciation.
After hearing the men’s conversation, Liz decided to pay them back for their efforts.
When Tim and Paul headed out, they noticed something unusual on their receipt.
The young waitress decided to pay for their meals and also left them a note on the back of the bill.
”Your breakfast is on me today. Thank you all that you do, for serving us and for running into the places everyone runs away from. No matter your role, you are courageous, brave and strong. Thank you for being bold every day,” the note read.
Tim Young shared a photo of the check on Facebook, along with a call for his friends to visit the diner and to “tip big” if they ever had Woodward as a waitress.
“When it came time for the bill, we flipped it over and she decided to comp it on her own,” Tim Young recalled, ABC6 reported.
Colleague Paul Hullings started crying because it made him feel good that a stranger would care so deeply about firefighters.
But the story didn’t stop there.
Tim Young soon learned that Liz Woodard had been trying to raise money for her father, Steve, who had been paralyzed by a brain aneurysm.
When Young and Hullings heard that Liz started a GoFundMe campaign in December to pay for a wheelchair-accessible van for her paralyzed father, they wanted to help spread the word.
”He needs access to the outside world. He needs to see the world outside his hospital bed,” Liz explained.
The two firemen wanted to do whatever they could to help Liz reach her goal.
The GoFundMe page was originally hoping to raise $17,000. But after help from the firefighters, it has collected more than $86,500.
Young said they’ve been “sharing the word as much as possible.”
Young and Hullings compassionate and kind gesture shocked Liz, who started crying when she found out.
”I don’t even know what to say to that,” said a tearful Liz.
“That’s incredible — what a way to wake up today. I had no idea today was going to go like this.”
With the help of the two firefighters, Liz Woodward raised enough money to cover the cost of the van.
“Our family has witnessed an outpouring of love & support from around the world, and I want to thank each and every one of you beautiful human beings for making this dream possible!” an update on the fundraiser said.
A tearful Liz said:
”All I did was pay for their breakfast, and I didn’t think anything would come about it except they would leave with a smile,” Liz told WPVI
This is exactly how people should help others. The way it was meant to be.
A $15 breakfast led to two men planning extraordinary action to help the person who bought it, all because she made their day a little bit better at the right moment.
I think it’s incredible how such a small act of kindness can give such positive results, and credit to everyone involved in this story for going out of their way.
Hopefully, this is a reminder to everyone that even the smallest gesture can lead to something amazing. You never know what it’s going to mean to someone else.
Be kind to each other, pay it forward when you can, that even the smallest gestures can change somebody’s life!