BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - It was a fun day out for Jenny Smith with her 9-year-old son Alex. They had attended an event just outside the north gates of LSU one Saturday and were returning home.
Jenny drove down Dalrymple Drive near the lakes but needed to turn around. So she turned onto May street to make the U-turn but immediately knew she was in trouble when she ran over the sharp edge of a culvert and blew out the side wall of her tire. Unbeknownst to her at the time, she also bent the rim as well.
"Now I know how to change a tire," Jenny said with a smile. "My daddy said to all of us that we're not getting our driver's license until we can change a tire. So I knew how to do it but I hadn't done it in years. Plus I had recently had surgery on my hand and so I couldn't lift the spare out of the trunk anyway. And Alex couldn't do it. So we were stuck."
Jenny called her husband who was only 20 minutes away to come help.
In the meantime, Jenny opened the trunk and then got the owner's manual out to begin reading up on how to remove the spare tire, jack, tire tool, and any other equipment they may need for the project.
While sitting there, Jenny said she watched as countless number of college-age kids, mainly young men, drove past. They all glanced her way and definitely saw a mom and her young son in need, yet not one of them stopped.
Jenny was parked out of the main roadway off Dalrymple on May street, so there was no danger of being hit. It was just frustrating.
Until one young man sitting at the light facing Jenny's car, about to turn onto Dalrymple, decided to cross Dalrymple when the light turned and drove onto May Street.
"May I help you guys?" asked Levi Wilson, a very pleasant college-age man.
Jenny smiled and assured Levi they were okay and that her husband would be there soon.
"Thanks anyway." Jenny told Levi.
"Oh," Levi said, "It's my day off. I don't mind at all. I've got nothing better to do and I can at least get it started for him so he has less work to do when he gets here."
Wow. Jenny was amazed as Levi began setting up the jack, taking the lug nuts off and started the tire changing process.
But that wasn't all. Levi began instructing Jenny's son Alex on how to change a tire.
"I'm one of three boys," Levi told Alex. "You've gotta learn how to take care of mama. So you're gonna need to know how to do all of this."
Jenny said Levi's instructional moment with her son was huge. All Alex had seen up to that point was everyone driving by and no one stopping to help.
Once Jenny's husband Kevin arrived, Levi stayed and help Kevin finish the tire change process. Then Levi bid them farewell and went on to enjoy his day off.
While they were visiting before Levi left, Jenny found out a little bit about him. Levi works about 60 hours a week in the oil change bay at Benny's Car Wash on Greenwell Springs Road, between Joor and Monterrey. He's also in the National Guard and wants to go to flight school soon.
Jenny and her husband Kevin wanted to do something special for Levi in recognition of his good deed and the incredible life lesson his actions gave their son Alex.
So Jenny sent me an e-mail and nominated Levi for WAFB's Hand It On award.
We contacted Levi's manager at Benny's on Greenwell Springs Road and got permission to surprise Levi at work one day.
On the agreed upon day we arrived with our cameras, along with the Smith family (Jenny, Kevin, and Alex). Our cameras followed the Smith's as they walked into the oil change bay where Levi had just finished servicing a customer and had a short break before the next car arrived.
"Remember me?" Jenny asked as she approached Levi. With a little prodding, he finally recognized who she was and broke into a big grin! But Levi was still a little confused about why our cameras were there.
"You thought you were just stopping to change a tire," Jenny began. "But it was much more. What really spoke to me that day was you said it was your day off and you could at least start changing the tire for my husband. I cannot tell you how many people drove by me and just saw me there needing assistance and did not stop."
"So thank you didn't seem enough," Jenny continued, a crackle in her voice. "On behalf of WAFB's Hand It On, I want to give you this $300."
Levi began shaking his head. He was not going to take the money; it was as if he didn't seem worthy. "No. This is just what I grew up doing," Levi admitted, still not taking the money from Jenny's hand.
"You have to take it," Jenny said. "It's Hand It On from WAFB."
Reluctantly, quite reluctantly, Levi sheepishly took the money.
"Your mamma would be proud," Jenny said, through watery eyes. Levi was about to tear up too.
"Thank you for taking care of my wife and son while I wasn't there," Kevin Smith shook Levi's hand in appreciation.
"My pleasure," Levi said, humbly shuffling his feet a little embarrassed. "It was my pleasure. And Thank You!"
Ordinary people making an extraordinary difference in lives of strangers by small (and sometimes not so small) gestures of good. That's what WAFB's Hand It On is all about; people helping people.
To nominate someone for Hand It On, send an e-mail to HandItOn@wafb.com. Make sure to include your contact information, especially your phone number!