FLORENCE, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) -- A Florence grandmother contacted Arizona’s Family Surprise Squad for help paying off graduation costs for the grandson she has raised from birth.
But when 3TV learned that her grandson, Zachary, was a young man who had overcome many difficulties to become a smart, compassionate teen, the Surprise Squad gave them a day they will never forget.
“I am so excited for this Arizona’s Family Surprise Squad,” said 3TV’s Scott Pasmore, holding a 4-day old baby goat. “It’s kind of like we’re back down on the farm with this cute little guy, hang in there little guy. We are at Florence High School with their agricultural department.”
“I’ve taught Zack for a few years and he is one of the most dedicated students I have,” said Angelica Rudow, Zachary’s teacher and FAA counselor.
“He’s so nice and he gives compliments to everybody,” said Georgia, one of Zachary’s classmates.
“He’s on National Honor Society and he’s a straight A student,” said Principal Toby Haugen.
“He’s super cool. He’s really nice to everyone,” said classmate Bradyn.
“I love him dearly and I would do anything for him,” said Aaron, Zachary’s brother
“What I would call a quiet leader. He looks for truth and justice,” said Principal Haugen. “When he sees something that’s not going right at Florence High School, he’s the first one to come and say, ‘hey, we need to fix this’.”
“He’s one of the few kids who is always out here,” said Ms. Rudow.
“He’s like a really, really good student,” said Tanner, Zachary’s classmate. “He deserves everything.”
“He never complains. He names the animals. He gives them more affection than a lot of people,” said Ms. Rudow.
“To see a kid who has had some struggles in life and has been through a lot and to always be positive and not let that define who he is,” said Principal Haugen. “He’s the type of student who should be rewarded.”
Pasmore approached Zachary while he cared for his assigned chickens.
“Who’s this?” asked Pasmore.
“Fluffy,” said Zachary holding a large chicken.
“Are chickens your favorite?” said Pasmore.
“Yeah,” said Zachary.
“What all do you do?” said Pasmore. “Feed them, hang out with them?”
“Feed them, hang out with them,” said Zachary. “Clean their cage.”
“What’s your favorite thing about them?” said Pasmore.
“I like how they are so easy to handle,” said Zachary.
Ms. Rudow instructed Zachary to get some poultry supplies from the storage box that held his first surprise.
“Did you see the sign here,” said Pasmore pointing out the Arizona’s Family Surprise Squad sign that covered Zachary’s gift. “This is from Arizona’s Family Surprise Squad and your Valley Toyota Dealers. We have a big surprise for you today because we have heard such great things about you and your fellow students love you so much. So, we have some gifts for you. Could you use a computer?”
“Yes,” said Zachary.
“Alright! A brand-new HP computer for you,” said Pasmore.
“That’s very nice,” said Zachary.
“I hear you want to go to college,” said Pasmore.
“Yeah,” said Zachary.
“It would be pretty handy going to college, wouldn’t it?” said Pasmore. “What do you think?”
“I think it’s awesome,” said Zachary.
“And look at this,” said Pasmore. “An Xbox game!”
“Why don’t you open that,” said Pasmore.
Pasmore then handed Zachary a small wood box.
“One-thousand dollars,” said Pasmore. “Spend it however you like. If you’re going to college, you can use it for your education, anything to make your life a little easier for you. They all love you so much here.”
Pasmore gestured to Zachary’s grandmother, Jody, to join them.
“Come in here,” said Pasmore.
“Thank you, guys,” said Jody, hugging Zachary.
“You’re so welcome,” said Pasmore. “You want to tell us about Zack?”
“Oh, he’s had to struggle from the very beginning and he’s overcome so much of it” said Jody. “He’s got his future all planned out.”
“I want to also be an accountant,” said Zachary.
“You like numbers, huh,” said Pasmore. “Are you good with math?”
“I also would like to do a couple of side jobs, a book writer and a game designer,” said Zachary.
“Oh, really?” said Pasmore. “A game designer. Nice!”
“You know you’ve been working hard to make sure that some of his graduation expenses have been taken care of,” said Pasmore to Jody. “Was that hard for you?”
“Yeah. Yeah. But I’ve managed,” said Jody. Anything I can pull together. Did it. You know?”
“How were you able to do that?” said Pasmore.
“It was hard. It was extremely hard,” said Jody.
“We have something for you as well,” said Pasmore.
“Me?” said Jody surprised.
“Would you open that,” said Pasmore handing her a box.
“Oh, lord!” said Jody.
“Four-hundred dollars, just to help out,” said Pasmore.
“Oh, my gosh,” said Jody.
“Is that a big help?” asked Pasmore.
“Thank you,” said Jody.
“You are so welcome,” said Pasmore hugging Jody.
“I just can’t thank you guys enough,” said Jody. “You guys have been wonderful.”
“Tell them your motto,” Jody said to Zachary.
“It’s kind of long,” said Zachary.
“I know but it’s very important,” said Jody.
Zachary pulled out a small piece of paper and read aloud.
“I will always try my best no matter how hard it is, also to never give up on anything in life, no matter what,” said Zachary. “I also like to see everybody around me not give up, try to help them out the best I can.”
“Thank you, Surprise Squad!” said the group of students with Zachary.
Arizona’s Family Surprise Squad is sponsored by your Valley Toyota Dealers.