Although I have never met an adult who still believes in Santa Claus, I’m sure there are some who do. And after Don received a canoe for Christmas from his wife Brandi Bandoni Paullo, he wondered if Santa Claus was real. He had never told his wife that he wanted a canoe, but it was the perfect present for him as he wanted to get out on the water more.
However, Don only managed to use his wife’s amazing gift once before it got stashed in the family’s garage where it sat for years without being touched. Despite his neglect, Don’s Christmas gift from his wife would prove that it had another use in it yet. Although Don was not the one using it and never removed it from the garage for ten years, the day a storm bombarded the area the canoe proved to be a lifesaver.
As the torrential downpour continued and continued, Don went to his garage and finally took the canoe out of hiding. Although it had been sitting in storage for a decade, it still worked. With flood waters rising, he needed the canoe more than ever before. And he had a mission he needed to accomplish.
Brandi shared the story about her husband on the Love What Matters Facebook page.
“Nearly 10 years ago, I bought Don Paullo a canoe for Christmas. He talked about fishing with friends and kids. Well, the canoe touched water once and has sat on the side of our garage for nearly a decade. Every once in a while, I’d comment on the stagnant canoe and Don would laugh and say he’d use it ‘next weekend.’
Although Don never did take it out of storage, when the rains came he put it to use saving lives.
“Well, the little green canoe got all its use over the past 3 days. It’s hauled over 100 people, their pets, and belongings out of Nottingham Forest. Don spent over 20 hours in the freezing cold water helping our friends, neighbors and perfect strangers to safety.”
Don’s home was destroyed by the flood waters, too. His home took on six to eight inches of water. But the personal devastation did not stop Don from opening his heart and putting the canoe to good use for the first time in a decade.
“I’ve certainly done a lot of crying in the past week, but it’s more about the generosity of my friends and neighbors than what I’ve lost.”
As Don continued to use his canoe to ferry people to safety, word got out that he was becoming a hero. That’s when Brandi and some neighbors created a command headquarters in one of their garages. They used this space to gather addresses of those who needed help. It was a rough-and-ready way for them to make sure they helped everyone in the community that they could.
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