Wade Foundation, friends surprise family with much-needed van

 ST. GEORGE – Aaron and Annie VanMeter got quite a surprise Monday when a friend asked them to make a quick stop at Dealer Collision Repair in St. George, ostensibly to see a friend.

When the couple and their two boys stepped inside the automotive repair center, they learned they were the proud new owners of a Honda Odyssey van – a ride big enough to hold their whole family.

The VanMeters are the parents of two young boys and twin daughters. When the girls were born almost a year ago, they could no longer fit into their passenger car.

“They just have really struggled,” VanMeters’ friend and former neighbor Candice Chandler said. “… When they had their two little baby girls, then they can’t fit their whole family anymore into their little car and they have absolutely no financial way to  purchase a larger vehicle.”

Son of Aaron and Annie VanMeter takes a seat behind the wheel of a van big enough for all six members of their family, given to them Monday by the Wade Family Foundation at Dealer Collision Center, St. George, Utah, Feb. 1, 2016 | Photo by Julie Applegate, St. George News
Son of Aaron and Annie VanMeter takes a seat behind the wheel of a van big enough for all six members of their family, given to them Monday by the Wade Family Foundation at Dealer Collision Center, St. George, Utah, Feb. 1, 2016 | Photo by Julie Applegate, St. George News

For the last year, she said, the VanMeters have been relying on friends and neighbors to get to doctor’s appointments, church and everything else.

“Together with the Wade Family Foundation and Dealer Collision, we found you a van – that is yours,” foundation president Tyler Wade said to the family Monday.

The announcement was met with big smiles from the VanMeters.

“This is a complete shock,” Aaron VanMeter said. “Just the fact that we have six family members in a five-seater vehicle; so, this is absolutely awesome to get a van.”

The giveaway happened by way of a contest announced on the radio, Monty Magleby, executive director of the Wade Family Foundation, said.

“They actually did some radio ads and they invited the public to nominate a good, deserving family,” Magleby said, “and Candice (Chandler) here and several of her neighbors and friends – a dozen or two – emailed in and nominated this young family ….”

Chandler used to live near the couple and was one of the people who emailed a nomination of the VanMeters for the giveaway. Dealer Collision responded to Chandler and eventually the surprise giveaway was arranged.

Shelly Harris, also a friend and neighbor of the VanMeters, helped plan the elaborate surprise.

“They think we’re just going to get ice cream,” Harris said before the presentation, “and I’m going to tell them that I have a friend I need to quickly stop by and talk to, and have them follow me over there.”

The 2004 Honda Odessey needed a little work, Dealer Collision mechanic Andrew Kuykendall said. The shop installed a new transmission, replaced the timing belt and water pump and gave the van a valve adjustment and tune-up. New tires and an alignment were added and the van was good to go.

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Email: japplegate@stgnews.com

Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2016, all rights reserved.

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8 Comments

  • IDIOT COMMENTERS February 2, 2016 at 11:45 am

    well geeze a 12 year old car with probably over 200,000 miles. so generous of them. now they can talk about how generous they were for years to come. advertising…

  • .... February 2, 2016 at 5:51 pm

    Well it could of been a 200.000 year old van with 12 miles on it !

  • Proud Rebel February 2, 2016 at 7:55 pm

    Hey, it beats a sharp stick in the eye. I’m sure that family is very thankful to have that van. Yes, it is old, but from the article, they went through it and fixed it up. Even a 12 year old vehicle beats walking or having to have your family hauled around by somebody else.
    If my memory is correct, Wade did something similar to this several months ago. Free advertising? Not exactly free. . .

    • .... February 2, 2016 at 9:24 pm

      Yep they did do this for another family…

    • IDIOT COMMENTERS February 2, 2016 at 9:48 pm

      for wade’s operation this is pocket change, and from what i gather they only do little things like this on very rare occasions. nice: yes, but not overly generous at all

  • Common Sense February 3, 2016 at 6:48 am

    I love this town and the people in it.

  • LuAnn February 3, 2016 at 6:18 pm

    What a kind and generous thing to do! I know that little family and they work hard and sacrifice for their children. Thank you Wade Foundation for looking for ways to do good in our community and offering this welcome and needed surprise to a family in need.
    LuAnn Lundquist

  • ladybugavenger February 3, 2016 at 10:48 pm

    I would like to nominate myself to receive a free Chevy Camaro from the wade family. 2014 or newer would be fine.i would be very grateful. My car has $156,000 miles. Will trade.

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