At 85, Widower Of 2 Grandsons With Special Needs Receives $115,000 After He Couldn't Quit His Job
Mar 15, 2023 by apost team
Wendall Gill worked as a full-time janitor at a McDonald's outlet in Kentucky for over 40 years. As an 85-year-old man, he could not quit his job to enjoy his retirement because he had two special needs adult grandsons who needed him.
In 2018, a tragedy befell the family when his wife of 68 years, Della Gill, suddenly passed away due to an aneurysm. Della and Wendall were running errands that day and stopped over at his place of work so they could eat, and she could use the bathroom. She passed out and never woke up, leaving her husband to become the sole parent of their grandchildren with special needs.
Wendall and Della legally adopted John, who was diagnosed with autism, and Justin, who was born with fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD), more than 20 years ago when their parents could no longer take care of them. At the time of Della's death, John was 33, and Justin was 20 but looked like a 12-year-old because of his condition.
With Della gone, Wendall kept working to provide for his adopted children. Figures from Autism Speaks, an advocacy group, indicated that it might cost over $1.4 million to care for a person with autism in their lifetime. On the other hand, the average healthcare cost for someone with FASD may rise up to $63,616 per year for emergency hospital visits alone.
One day at work, Wendall ran into Todd Oldfield, an old friend who used to work at the same McDonald's years ago. Once Oldfield asked Wendall how he was doing, the old man could not stop talking about his struggles without his eyes tearing up. That's when Oldfield realized he needed to do something for his friend.
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Oldfield opened a GoFundMe page for Wendall and his children. He also posted a video of his talk with Wendall, who poured his grief over losing his wife and taking care of the boys. Oldfield called for donations from his contacts on Facebook and emphasized that Wendall didn't have enough funds to bury his wife, let alone support two adults with special needs.
"Wendall has to keep working right there in the store, walking past this restroom, cleaning it daily," Oldfield wrote on the GoFundMe page. "This is what the man does. This memory of what happened in there will never leave him I fear. And, he cannot leave the store. He has no money."
News of Wendall's situation became viral on social media, and more than $80,000 was raised in a matter of days. This helped Wendall pay off the van he was using to drive his grandsons around town. By the time the fundraising was closed, Oldfield collected $115,520 for the family from over 2,000 donors, but there were more donations pouring in as someone also offered to pay for Della's headstone or Wendall's remaining mortgage payments.
Oldfield told Inside Edition that people responded to the fundraising drive because they love Wendall. As his friend, Oldfield said the old man should not have to worry about money anymore and should spend his time with his remaining family. After turning over the proceeds of the fundraiser, Oldfield also announced on the GoFundMe page that Wendall finally retired and focused on taking his boys to their care centers three times a week.
What do you think of Wendall Gill's situation and his friend's initiative to help him out? Are you glad that Wendall finally retired? Tell us your thoughts about this story, and pass this along to friends!