Regardless of its growing number of uses, the internet is still a very helpful tool for people looking to make connections. And Maiya James can certainly attest to that fact, as in January 2017 she contacted someone online to help her family. However, the man then showed up at her home soon after with an incredible surprise.
A resident of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Maiya is a teenager living at home with her mother, Katherine, and older sister Mariah. The latter of these family members has severe disabilities, suffering from epilepsy, blindness and cerebral palsy. Confined to a wheelchair, Mariah requires 24-hour care, with Katherine transporting her to and from the hospital.
Due to Mariah’s condition, then, the family traveled around in an old van that could house Mariah’s wheelchair. But the vehicle proved to be very unreliable. The van eventually stopped running, in fact, leaving Katherine and her daughters in an incredibly tough position. So that’s when Maiya decided to step up and help her struggling mom.
After doing a bit of research, the teenager found some information on Danis Auto, a local car dealership that had provided help to its community in the past. Then, in January 2017, Maiya sent the company an email detailing her family’s situation and hoping for some assistance.
“I’m writing to you asking for help for my mom Katherine,” Maiya wrote. “She has no idea that I am writing to you. I think she has just given up asking for help.” From there, the teenager spoke about Mariah’s condition, while also hailing her mom’s efforts in looking after the family.
After that, Maiya described the state of Katherine’s van, noting the problems that had plagued it before it eventually broke down. “The van that she has [now] is old and has a lot of things that need to be fixed,” she wrote. “The windshield leaks, the car cuts off at random. She is afraid to drive anywhere but still needs to get Mariah to doctor’s appointments.”
Maiya then enquired if Danis Auto could donate a van to her family. “My mom is a fighter and has gone through a lot of stuff, but she doesn’t deserve to have to struggle like this, it’s just not [fair],” she wrote. “Thank you for reading my letter, and I hope and pray you can help my mom.”
Not long afterwards, Maiya received a response from the car dealership telling her that a team would look over her mom’s van and repair it. But then the story took an interesting turn because Fox 29’s Bill Anderson became involved. And, along with his camera crew, Anderson joined the group from Danis as they arrived on Katherine’s doorstep in February 2017.
Completely unaware of her daughter’s plan, Katherine was surprised by the appearance of the team, which included Joe and Dani Levi, the CEO and founder of Danis Auto, respectively. After introducing themselves, the group then explained why they were there before heading back outside to look at the van.
Of course, Anderson and his crew captured the team examining her vehicle on video. And in the footage, Dani Levi reveals a quite incredible surprise. “We think about something better for you,” he tells Katherine. The founder of the car dealership then signals towards another van down the street, prompting the driver to honk the horn.
“That’s going to be your new van,” Dani continues. “And it’s going to be a nice service van. It’s never going to cut off.” Within a few moments, Katherine bursts into tears, overwhelmed by the heartfelt gesture. Along with the vehicle, she is also handed a free four-year warranty and a gift card worth $500.
After that memorable moment, Anderson asks Maiya why she decided to step up and help her mom. “Because she done a lot for me,” the teenager responds. “And definitely for my sister. And for others in general.” As for Joe Levi, he also explains his reasons for aiding the family, citing the impact that the email had had on him.
“What’s special about this email is that it wasn’t someone asking for help,” Joe tells Anderson. “There was a story behind it. And I could relate to the story. I saw the struggle that the family went through. It made me feel like this is something that I want to be a part of.”
Anderson’s report on the story was eventually uploaded to Fox 29’s Facebook page in February 2017. Since then, the video has earned just under 400,000 views on the social media website as well as more than 10,000 likes and 6,000 shares. The report also generated more than 1,000 comments, most of which praised Maiya’s actions.
“What a beautiful story,” wrote user Helen Burgess. “I applaud her daughter who showed such selflessness and more concern for her mom and sister. You don’t find that too often. May God’s blessings continue to pour out for her and the family.”
Meanwhile, user Amanda Lynn wrote, “What an amazing story. I am over here crying. That teenage girl is selfless and deserves every blessing that is going to come her way.” Fellow user Shahdae Holland reiterated those feelings and also hailed Maiya’s altruistic act.
“Crying my eyes out,” wrote Holland. “My God what a powerful story. God bless this family and the amazing daughter who was moved to write not for herself but her mom.” And Danis Auto received a fair amount of praise in the Facebook comments section for its part in the story, too.
“That was absolutely beautiful,” wrote user Theodora Brandon-Garrett. “I’m so glad there is still kindness and heartfelt warmth and compassion in people! God bless Dani’s Auto!” Elsewhere, another user named David Aimes spoke of his own experience when dealing with the car company, suggesting that the amiability was always there.
“I met the guys at Dani’s Auto a little more than three years ago,” Aimes reflected. “And at that moment they proved to be very good folks, and they haven’t disappointed me. Keep up the great and honest work that you are doing.”
So, thanks to one heartfelt email and a remarkable gesture from the recipient, Maiya’s struggling mother’s life was made a whole lot easier. And those selfless acts won’t be forgotten for some time yet.