MUSTANG, Okla. - Candice Berry just got bought a truck, but it turns out the vehicle has a lot of problems.
“The brakes need to be changed, purge valve and the speedometer is off,” Candice said as she went down the list of problems on her truck.
She knew the purge valve and the speedometer could be fixed later, but she had to have her brakes fixed if she wanted the truck to be safe.
“I don’t know how long brakes can go before they kind of give out on you,” Candice said. “So that’s my daily drive and I’m just ready to make sure that it’s safe and no questions.”
Candice called garage after garage, knowing that getting anything fixed on her truck was going to cost her.
One garage after another all gave her a price she couldn’t afford.
Then she got in touch with Adam Ely. He owns Hard Luck Automotive in Mustang, and he’s working to help people who can’t pay a steep repair bill but still have to get work done on their cars.
“He wrote me back right away with a price for just parts,” Candice said. “And I said how much for labor, and he said I don’t charge labor.”
“I didn’t even anticipate him having that soon of an appointment or being able to help me that soon, so, yeah, it wouldn’t be getting done right now.”
Candice couldn’t believe it: she had been planning to save up to get her brakes done all the while just hoping they wouldn’t go out before she had the work done and cause her to crash.
“This is the thing I needed to get to work every day, to get my son to school,” Candice said. “And this was the main thing I needed help with, and I didn’t see it happening any time soon because I thought I’d be charged a lot at a shop.”
With Adam and his help, Candice realized she could get the work done without the stress of driving in a truck that wasn’t safe.
For that, she nominated Adam for the First Fidelity Bank Pay It Forward Award.
Dawnetta Moore from First Fidelity Bank came out to Adam’s garage in Mustang to help present the award, and she says people like Adam make a difference.
“I am from this community and it just warms my heart to hear about somebody who’s helping others,” Dawnetta said. “That’s what Mustang is all about.”
Candice was set to have her truck fixed by Adam that day, but Adam didn’t know he’d be getting this award.
With the help of his wife, we got ready to surprise him while waiting in his garage.
That’s when Dawnetta gave Candice $400 to Pay It Forward to Adam.
“Thank you so much,” Candice said. “I’m grateful to be able to give this to him. I can’t think of a better person who takes time away from his family, who takes time away from things he could be doing for himself for strangers, and I’m just grateful.”
A few minutes later, Adam arrives, and he was clearly shocked to see a TV crew hanging out in his garage, along with his wife, mother and a representative from the bank.
“I almost cussed,” Adam said after he walked through the garage door.
Candice presented the award, said thank you, and for Adam is was time to get down to business. He was focused on getting the job done.
“So are we doing your brakes?” Adam asked Candice.
“Yeah, we’re doing my brakes still,” Candice said.
As Adam started working on Candice’s truck, he told us how his charitable work got started.
“I was a mechanic in the military,” Adam said. “I saw a need. One of the little girls that my daughter works with, her car kind of took a crap. She was a pizza delivery chick for Dominos, and my wife and I talked about it and the rest is history. Just kind of helped her out, you know? I knew there was a need for that. She couldn’t afford to go to the dealership to have her car diagnosed and we took care of it.”
“It was pretty awesome to see that little girl drive out of the driveway with her car fixed and to know that she didn’t need to quit her job, you know? That I got to effect some change and help someone.”
Adam kept the charitable work up, and more and more people who really needed his help started to come from everywhere.
Adam says the response is because there’s such a need for what he’s doing.
“When you go to a car repair place, you’re vulnerable,” Adam said. “And the last thing you want is to be charged a $150 to have a mechanic tell you what’s wrong with your car when you already know that your car’s broken. That’s kind of the way this started, just to knock off that diagnosis fee. And it’s snowballed into having a tool box in the back of my truck and driving around helping people out.”
“I’m grateful for him,” Candice said. “In a second, he said, ‘yeah, you want to meet now? You wanna meet next week?’ Very quick, and I needed that because I needed my brakes.”
Candice says she plans to watch how Adam does the work.
“It’s a little bit harder for me because I’m a single mom with a son,” Candice said. “I don’t have any power tools. I’ve got screwdrivers, and I don’t know how to do things like change my oil, change my brakes, things like that. I’m excited because I can watch Adam do things, and then I’ll know what I’m doing. That’s another reason I’m excited because I need to know these things with the truck so that I can help myself in the future.”
Candice’s son, Jace, also appreciates what Adam’s doing.
“I want to do the same thing as Adam because I just want make the world a better place like he does,” Jace said.
“I love helping folks, yeah,” Adam said.
One thing that bothers Adam is that he can’t fix everything all the time.
“Most of the time I have to be the bearer of bad news, you know?” Adam said. “With my little toolbox, I can’t do real invasive stuff. If your transmission's slipping or your motor's blown, I can’t help you out. So nine times out of ten, I have to tell folks, ‘Hey, I saved you $150 on this $5000 repair.'”
Adam is doing this free work out of the goodness of his heart, and he has a big one. But just keep in mind that it’s a good idea to give him a call only if you really need it.
The need for what he does is massive in our community, and he’s got more work than he has time for.