For me, this all started with two names in the local obituary column; Crystal and Donald Howard. Being the naturally curious person that I am, noting that the last names were the same, I wanted to find out if and how they were related and what was the story of their deaths. After some internet searching, I discovered their Facebook page and learned that they were a married couple who died in a tragic automobile accident, not far from their home in Newborn, GA on Halloween night (October 31, 2015). They went to the store to get some face-painting and other things for the kids, with the intention of coming right back home! Unfortunately, less than a mile from their home, Donald Howard lost control of the vehicle and they ended up colliding with a tree and both Donald and Crystal died at the scene!
Now after praying for the family, this would have been the end of my interest in the story had it not been for the actions of Georgia State Patrol Trooper Nathan Bradley. Trooper Bradley, who was on patrol in nearby Rockdale County, Georgia heard the call on his radio and took it upon himself to make the twenty-minute drive to the accident scene in a neighboring county. He, along with a local deputy and the county coroner, made the notification of death visit to the home of the family. When they arrived, they discovered four children, ages 6 – 13, who were waiting for their parents to return home. At that point and time, not wanting to ruin their Halloween, Trooper Bradley didn’t have the heart to tell them that their parents were dead. So, after making contact with their paternal grandmother in south Florida, Trooper Bradley took it upon himself to personally see after the children until their grandmother could make the 7-hour trip to take custody. He fed them, he entertained them, he put them to bed, all the while knowing and they not knowing their parents were dead!
Now at this point, Trooper Bradley had already gone beyond the call of duty, but he wasn’t finished yet! He had given the oldest child his phone number and told the boy to call him if they needed anything. The next day, the boy; Justin Donald, contacted Trooper Bradley and informed him that it would cost about $7,000 to transport the bodies of his parents back to Florida, along with other typical funeral expenses. Trooper Bradley felt that it was important that the children be able to visit the graves of their parents. In his mind, it just wouldn’t be right for the parents to be buried in Georgia while the children were living in Florida. So, he established a Go Fund Me account, with the initial goal of covering the seven thousand dollar transportation and funeral expense. The account was set up on November 4 and as of the writing of this post on November 5, the initial goal has been bypassed by over $170,000! At the very moment I am writing this, 4,756 people have given $178,865 in just two days! By the time I finish editing and publishing, I suspect it will be well over $200,000!
Thank you Georgia State Patrol Trooper Nathan Bradley! You sir, along with those who helped you care for those children in the initial hours after the tragedy, have helped me to regain my faith in humanity! We are bombarded with bad news of shootings, police brutality, gang violence, and war every day! It seems as if the whole world has gone to Hell in a hand-basket! But you sir, provide living proof that there are still people who genuinely care! And so, I thank you! But not only do I thank you, I also thank Donald and Crystal Howard! I thank them because, it was obvious to me, from reading the story, that they were great parents, who instilled strong morals and values in their children! Thank you, Justin Donald, the oldest of the children, along with your brothers and sister, for being strong and brave in your hour of tragedy! I can’t imagine the pain you must be feeling right now! This story has touched me in a deep way and I don’t personally know anyone involved. So I know the situation must be weighting on you and your siblings, along with the rest of the family heavily! Thank you, to the grandmother from Florida, who will be taking care of these children and to all of the rest of the family. I want you to know that you will constantly be in my thoughts and prayers!
Chances are, Georgia State Trooper Nathan Bradley, Justin Donald, his grandmother from Florida, or any of the many others who were directly involved will never read this blog post, but still I felt to need to publicly say thank you! All of you, along with Donald and Crystal Howard (May they rest in peace in the presence of our Loving Father) have served to inspire me to be a better person, knowing that there are yet people in the world who genuinely love and care! Again, thank you!
If you would like to contribute to this cause, click on the link below: