“Today my brother became my hero,” Chelsea writes. “Today, as I was driving thru the middle of Gate City to attend an appointment that I had to be at 6:00, I look up the alley and see my brother bent over helping a man in a wheel chair.”
Chelsea and Alex are both graduates of Gate City High School — Chelsea in 2009 and Alex in 2014 — and it was last Tuesday evening when Chelsea says she saw Alex standing on a side street that turns off of Kane Street and runs in between Campus Drive-In and O'Reilly Auto Parts. When she saw the two of them, she says she immediately called to see if everything was OK.
“Alex told me something was wrong with the man’s wheelchair, that it was locked up and not moving. He said he was on Google, trying to figure out how to fix it,” Chelsea said. “He said he’d called (the man’s) family and they were on their way to help. I told him I’d be back through after my 6 o’clock appointment and would stop if they were still there.”
Chelsea says when she came back through about 30 to 45 minutes later, Alex and the man were still there. But, this time, Chelsea noticed the man had a blanket over him.
“Alex told me, while they were waiting for the man’s family, he started to shiver. Alex said luckily he had the blanket in his car. That’s when all this really got to me. When he said that he got the blanket out of his car because the man was shivering, I was like, ‘Wow!’,” Chelsea said. “Alex had the heart to not only stop and help this man, but to do something to keep him warm while they waited, too. I left there thinking, ‘I am going to brag on my brother because not many people would do that anymore — just going up to a stranger and try to help.’”
It was later that same evening that Chelsea decided to share on Facebook what she witnessed her brother doing.
Within a matter of hours, her post was shared, “liked” and commented on by hundreds of people. Some of those who saw Chelsea’s post even contacted the Times-News about it.
“When I posted this on Facebook, I thought, ‘Alex is going to kill me!’ He’s so humble. He doesn’t like attention, but he deserves some attention for this, for having the heart of gold that people assume most don’t have anymore.”
Twenty-year-old Alex — who is a student at East Tennessee State University and works at both Pizza Plus in Gate City and Gate City Funeral Home — didn’t get mad at his sister for making the post. He says he was surprised, however, on how fast it got around. He laughed and said when he showed up for work the next morning, his coworkers said, “There’s the hero!”
Alex says it was just by chance that he came upon the man like he did. Alex and his girlfriend were on their way to eat at Hob-Nob, but changed their minds and decided to go to Teddy’s Restaurant in Nickelsville instead.
“I slowed my car down and turned right, in between Campus and O’Reilly’s. I saw the gentleman sitting in the wheelchair and, at first, I didn’t think anything about it. I thought he’d just stopped to give me time to get by in my car. But, as I drove by and slowed down, I looked at him and he waved. I waved back, but then I got this urge to look back in my rear view mirror. He still wasn’t moving. So, I turned my car around and went back to him,” Alex said.
Alex says the man tried to tell him how to get his chair moving again, but nothing worked and that’s when they decided to call his family.
“I hope if I hadn’t stopped, somebody else would’ve. I’m happy I did stop, though. I caught him at the right time. It was around 6:15 and the sun was starting to go down and was already behind O’Reilly’s so the man was in the shade. I’m not going to lie....I was cold, too, standing there. I can only imagine what it was like for an elderly gentleman like him,” Alex said.
In talking to the man, Alex, who had just come from a visitation at Gate City Funeral Home, learned that the man he stopped to help was also headed to that same visitation.
“He lived not very far away and the weather was nice that day so he told his family he would just take his wheelchair and go to the funeral home,” Alex said.
But, when his chair stalled on him, he was stuck.
“He had flashing caution lights on his chair and he was just sitting in the middle of the road. People were swerving by him to get onto Kane Street. If everybody else thinks somebody else will stop, he could’ve been there for who knows how long and who knows what might have happened to him,” Alex said.
Alex stayed until the man’s very thankful family showed up with a battery charger for the chair and a van to get him home safely.
“What Alex did, shows us that there are still some good ones out there,” said Chelsea. “And I’m so lucky that one of them is my brother.”