He lost hope
Life had gone from hard to hopeless for Vallejo, California resident Troy Gaskin.
The 51-year-old single father of 4 was recovering from his second heart attack and had just lost his job installing home theatres when (more) tragedy struck.
A faulty electrical panel set off a fire that tore through his home. He recalled the horrific night to MSN.
I was sleeping on the couch with my 7-year-old when all of a sudden my whole house was engulfed in flames
– Troy Gaskin
He had just enough time to get his kids to safety. However, with no insurance, the only thing he and his four sons had was the shirts on their backs. He told KTVU that he was on his last legs.
“Everything’s been taken out of me. I’m just trying to survive with these kids,” he said.
That’s when something special happened: The human spirit.
Allison Hill, a total stranger, saw the tragic news and started a GoFundMe effort to help pay for a motel room, clothes and other essentials. “I would love to see our community come together for this family,” she wrote to residents of Vallejo.
They didn’t disappoint.
The community pitched in close to $40,000 for the Gaskins. As well, residents would visit the Gaskins around the clock with home-cooked meals, school supplies and words of encouragement.
The single dad was floored.
“The Vallejo community was so unbelievable … they just … It was so much love,” recalled Gaskin.
However, more help was on its way, this time straight from the Hollywood Hills.
An open Hart
Gaskin and his family were invited to the Kelly Clarkson Show. Gaskin was aptly featured for the show’s ‘Rad Dads’ segment. That fateful day, the co-host was none other than frenetic funnyman and movie megastar Kevin Hart.
Addressing Gaskin’s boys, the ‘Jumanji’ star reminded them who the real hero is.
I think that you should be so lucky to truly understand what this moment is about right now. It’s about your dad just being so brave, so tough to stand in what he’s standing in, and realize he’s not only doing it for you guys
– Kevin Hart
They announced that partner Arcade1Up would donate $50,000 to them along with an arcade machine the kids chose.
However, Hart had one final act.
As Clarkson was about to sign off, Hart stepped in front of her “Wait a second guys, I didn’t leave yet,” he said, “I can’t leave without doing something for you.”
Cueing up the band, he asked the boys what their favorite color was – blue – as blue lights lit up the Kelly Clarkson show studio. Then, he announced that he’d match the $50,000 raised – for a total of $100,000.
The power of community
Gaskin wants all of his supporters to know that because of them, the future’s now brighter than the California sun.
“I want people to know that we did get a place, we’re happy, we’re doing good. All those people that donated to me — it went to a good cause and we’re doing good now. I want people to know that”
– Troy Gaskin
The whole experience has also motivated Gasking to pay it forward whenever he can. When he sees others down on their luck, he speaks with them, sometimes helping them out with a couple of dollars.
Don’t ask me why, but for some reason, life’s most tragic tests bring out the heroes in us. There’s something about seeing someone in need that taps into a well of will to lift them up.
In this feature, stars from every walk banded together for an awesome ending.
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