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Kind act inspires wave of generosity that is felt through three communities

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GAYLORD, Minn. – It all started with Fred Pitzner.

When Pitzner died, he didn’t have any children to leave his estate to, so he decided to give the Gaylord EMS crew enough money to buy a new ambulance.

In itself, it was a small act of kindness that could help those in his community for years to come.

But he had no idea that kind act would cause a domino effect in the surrounding areas.

“I remember him coming to me at my job, giddy,” Amy Hahn told KARE. “We got this gift and wouldn’t it be awesome if we could pay it forward somehow?”

Gaylord EMS president Tom Webster decided the gift could help another town, so he decided to donate Gaylord’s 17-year-old ambulance to Comfrey, a nearby town that was working out of a 27-year-old ambulance.

When Webster was killed in a tragic accident just weeks after that phone call, first responders flocked to Gaylord to cover the station so the crew could grieve.

“Our family covered for us,” said Mark Brandt.

Webster’s death and his gift inspired the crew at Comfrey to continue to pay it forward.

They decided to donate their 27-year-old ambulance to a town that never had one.

“Other people look at it as, ‘Oh, that’s kind of an old rig,’ but to us that means everything,” said Tara Roiger, a first responder in Sanborn.

Paramedics in Sanborn had actually been using their personal vehicles to take patients to nearby hospitals.

Now, Pitzner’s family is seeing the effects of one good deed that didn’t stop giving.