In an emotional July 19 presentation in Renton, Wash., Seattle’s beloved Walton family and a local hero, U.S. Navy veteran Gregory Wood, each received keys to new vehicles as part of a special event hosted by Service King Collision Repair Centers and Geico.
The giveaway was part of the organization’s Service King Cares program and its ongoing partnership with the National Auto Body Council’s Recycled Rides initiative.
With the volunteer help and expertise of certified technicians from Service King’s local repair center, the Walton family received a fully refurbished 2013 Chevy Malibu and Wood got the keys to a refurbished 2014 Nissan Sentra.
“These people didn’t just give us a car,” said Sarah Walton. “They gave us love. They gave us the ability to see the good in every person, to see that love has no boundaries, and that kindness isn’t born, it’s made, and the people we met today are filled with kindness and love that could fill the heart of thousands.”
The Walton family captured the hearts of millions across the globe as they documented their daughter, Ellie, and her courageous fight against brain cancer. Ellie confronted 28 rounds of chemotherapy and numerous surgeries before passing at the age of four in January. During her fight, Ellie’s mother, Sarah, created a Facebook page and a blog that sought postcards from around the world to give her daughter a glimpse of the world she never got to witness first-hand.
Soon, hundreds of postcards started arriving at her home in Spanaway, Wash., from virtually every state and as far away as Russia, Japan, Finland and Germany. Her story of courage, fight and resolve touched the world and even found its way to NBC’s “Today Show” online.
“The Walton family and Gregory Wood have inspired so many across the Seattle area, and it is the distinct privilege of our teammates to reach out a helping hand,” said Wesley McAlester, Service King market vice president. “It is the hope of the entire Service King family that these vehicles provide a tangible spark of hope to carry the Waltons and Mr. Wood forward in their unique pursuits in life.”
Since Ellie’s passing in January, the financial burden of the numerous surgeries and chemotherapy has taken a toll on the Walton family, which soon found itself without a reliable vehicle. Upon hearing their stories, and the basic need for reliable transportation, Service King’s repair technicians volunteered their time, skill and expertise to repair both vehicles, provided by Geico, to like-new condition in time for Wednesday’s delivery in Renton.
Wood served in the U.S. Navy from March 2001 to July 2008. Before Wednesday’s giveaway, Wood was without a personal vehicle and walked nearly two hours each day to and from work.
“This is life-changing,” Wood said. “I am in shock and still cannot believe this. My entire life will be tremendously impacted in a positive way because of this.”