GRAND PRAIRIE (CBS11) – Last October, an unsuspecting Grand Prairie Police officer got the surprise of his life.
Rafael Taft thought he was a just another guest at the “Save Our Heroes” concert at the American Airlines Sky Ball.
Unbeknownst to him, he had been nominated by a fellow brother in blue as a veteran deserving of a new car.
Auto body repair company Caliber Collision selected him as the recipient of one of three recycled rides. At the time, he immediately mentioned how the gift would improve his 5-year-old daughter’s life.
“My daughter was supposed to be here tonight but she’s in the ER right now,” the single father explained.
Caliber Collision, which has donated 130 vehicles to folks in need, teamed up with United Access and BraunAbility to modify the cab for his daughter Sunday’s special needs.
“Let’s take this a step further and get a wheelchair lift added to this van,” said Mark Sanders, Caliber Collision’s President and Chief Operating Officer.
“This gift of this van couldn’t have come at a better time. It’s exactly what we needed when we needed it,” said Officer Taft.
The modification was completed this month. For the first time, the officer got to test out the van that he will use to take his daughter to doctor’s visit’s and to the park.
“Oh, that’s an awesome feeling,” he said as he easily glided her wheelchair in and out of the vehicle.
Up until now, Sunday had to be lifted in and out of a car seat she was quickly outgrowing. Her wheelchair did not fit in the trunk of her father’s car.
“She just recently had her 20th surgery and she still smiles. I haven’t hadn’t had anything close to that. If she can handle it, I can handle it,” he said.
Before serving his local community, the Army veteran served in Operation Desert Storm and did two tours in Iraq.
“I can’t think of anybody more deserving than Officer Taft, who served our country in the military and as an officer today,” said Greg Kaiser, Vice President of Consumer Sales for BraunAbility.
“This is why we get up and come to work everyday,” said Mike Shipka, General Manager of United Access.
(©2017 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)