A Marine who earned a Purple Heart after three tours in Iraq was surprised with a new car.
William McDermott, who lives in Payson with his wife and four children, was identified as a veteran in need by the organization “Arizona Heroes to Hometowns,” an organization that helps wounded service members transition back to their communities.
“Will is someone that has given so much our country and really could use a hand up at this time. AZ Heroes to Hometowns' mission is to help those returning from war to find their new normal by giving them a hand up when needed,” said Kathy Pearce, founder.
In November, McDermott was one of three service members surprised with a $1,000 check from Valley Toyota Dealers and a $500 shopping spree from Fry’s Food Stores.
After hearing of McDermott’s struggle with finding work because his car kept breaking down, Valley Toyota Dealers stepped in to help.
After the original story aired on 3TV Arizona’s Family, Will was asked to come to Camelback Toyota under the impression viewers touched by his story wanted to adopt his family for Christmas.
McDermott was greeted by 3TV Anchor Scott Pasmore in the dealership showroom.
“When you got $1,000, did that make life easier for you,” said Pasmore.
“Yeah it was huge you have no idea, we were able to Christmas shop,” said Will.
“With four kids, it helped a lot. They’re 17, 12, 11 and 8,” said Amy McDermott, Will’s wife.
Despite the Marine being shot in the helmet and injured during his service, Will is humble about his service.
“There’s a lot of other guys out there. We’ve been at war for close to two decades, there are some guys that have gone 10 times,” he said.
Frank Carl, Camelback Toyota operations manager, then walked up and greeted the couple.
“Hi Scott. Hi William. Hi Amy. It’s Frank from Valley Toyota Dealers, how are you?” he said.
“Thanks for coming down today, Merry Christmas! I hear you have a family that wants to adopt you, how exciting! They’re right over there, let’s go meet them,” said Carl.
The McDermotts walked across the showroom and were greeted by 3TV Anchor Gina Maravilla who was holding a box.
“I want to introduce you to my co-worker Gina Maravilla,” said Pasmore.
“I want to say thank you for your service,” said Maravilla, who handed McDermott a gift box.
The Marine opened the box to reveal $1,000.
“Thank you so much,” said Will McDermott.
“You’re going to make me cry,” said Amy who fought to hold back tears.
“Well we want to introduce you to a couple more family members,” said Pasmore.
The group walked over to another part of the showroom and were greeted by 3TV Meteorologist April Warnecke.
“Thank you so much for your service,” said Warnecke as she handed Will McDermott two gift boxes.
“Oh my god!” exclaimed the couple.
“That’s $3,000, what do you think?” said Pasmore.
“I’m blown away,” said Will McDermott as he embraced his wife Amy already in tears.
“In case you haven’t figured it out, It’s Arizona’s Family Surprise Squad that’s adopted you so come this way,” said Pasmore.
The couple then walked over to the customer lounge area where 3TV anchor Olivia Fierro greeted the couple with three more gift boxes revealing an additional $3,000.
Amy and Will were stunned.
“You spent $1000 on your family for Christmas, what do you think you could do with $6,000?” asked Pasmore.
“It’s funny that you asked that because I just hit up Toyota in Surprise two weeks ago to try and get a vehicle because mine took a crap on me but I needed $3,000 down and I didn’t have it,” said Will.
“So how did you get down here today?” asked Pasmore.
“My aunt drove us down,” said Will.
“You didn’t even have a car to get down here?” said Pasmore.
“No,” said Will McDermott.
“How have you been getting around?” asked Pasmore.
“Just borrowing vehicles,” said the couple.
“You’ve been looking for work but it’s hard to find a job without a car,” said Pasmore.
“It is,” said Will McDermott.
The couple sat at a table under the premise they needed to do paperwork when a loud honk caused them both to jump from their seats.
“Surprise!” yelled 3TV anchors who drove into the showroom in an SUV wrapped in a big red bow.
“We have one more surprise for you,” said Pasmore.
“Are you serious?” said Will McDermott as his wife Amy clutched her face in shock.
“Will, John O’Malley here. On behalf of the Toyota Dealers in the Valley we want to present you with this 2018 Highlander, Merry Christmas,” said John O’Malley, President Valley Toyota Dealers.
“Are you serious right now,” said Will McDermott as a crowd watching erupted in applause.
“We realize that we are fortunate to be Toyota dealers and to have the success we’ve had, so several years ago the Valley Toyota Dealers made a decision to give back to the community. We’ve helped all kinds of people in need – women, children, veterans and more. Helping someone who put their life on the line for our country was an easy decision and it was our privilege to help Will. We hope it will serve him and his family well for many years to come, and handing him the keys was an awesome experience to say the least,” said O’Malley.
Will and Amy looked at each other and embraced in tears.
“You don’t have to buy a used car now, jump in there” exclaimed Pasmore.
“It’s yours, everything is paid for. Valley Toyota Dealers took care of the taxes everything,” he said.
“This is amazing! It’s huge in here, I’ve never had a new vehicle in my life,” said Amy .
“I think there’s people out there that deserve this a lot more than I do,” said Will with a stunned look on his face.
“You deserve it baby,” said Amy as she hugged her husband in the front seat of their new SUV.
“I’m a Toyota owner,” exclaimed Will with a huge smile on his face holding two thumbs up.
“You didn’t even open the box that had the key in it,” said Amy as she laughed.
“I was freaking out!” said Will McDermott as the couple drove off the lot.
Copyright 2017 KPHO/KTVK (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.