When Tom Topping went to work in his Ford Super Duty® on July 17, he expected a day like any other in his hometown of Manchester, Connecticut. Instead, something remarkable happened.
Lots of kids like Tom’s truck, the Big Red Monster, a red 2012 F-250 well equipped for his commercial lawn-mowing business. When he noticed a customer’s grandson fall in love with it on his last run of the day, it wasn’t unusual at all. As Tom wrapped up, he even let the boy, Kevin, push the button to load the mower into the truck bed.
And then Tom decided to go further.
Kevin had jumped into Tom’s truck and buckled up before his grandmother and sister could stop him. Tom got the hint and reassured Kevin’s grandmother, Gail, who happened to be his first-ever customer, that it was okay. With her permission, Tom took Kevin and his sister, Hannah, for a joyride – up and down Porter Street, totaling about four minutes.
Kevin, a 15-year-old with Down syndrome, is limited verbally and showed Tom how thankful he was by grabbing Tom’s arm and giving him a hug as Tom slowed down for the stop sign. In his post to the Ford Motor Company Facebook page, Tom told us, “He looked up just as I looked down, and when our eyes met, I saw Christmas in July…and I was Santa.”
Tom’s story touched our hearts, and we had to hear more of the Big Red Monster’s story! After talking with Tom, we discovered that going further is practically his middle name. Tom is a former Marine and an ordained minister, and he works with his governor every year to fill the Big Red Monster with toys to donate to kids in need. “Like Ford Motor Company,” Tom told us, “I strive to make the world a better place.”
Tom, Kevin and Kevin’s family got a fun surprise just over a week later: a trip to a Toby Keith concert (three days before Tom’s birthday, as fate would have it)!
To prepare the Big Red Monster for Kevin’s trip to the concert, Tom took it to Ray Seraphin Ford, where he bought it, to be detailed. Moved by Tom’s reason for giving his F-250 a little TLC, the folks at Ray Seraphin Ford donated the Big Red Monster’s detail work!
When Tom and the family arrived in the Big Red Monster on the big day, even more surprises were in store. We helped Tom, who was more concerned about the family’s concert experience than his own, get the whole group T-shirts and backstage passes to meet Toby Keith, too! While backstage, Toby had a special surprise of his own and gave Kevin an autographed Ford guitar.
Everyone was excited to share such an exciting night out on the town in the Big Red Monster, and Kevin was overjoyed. Tom told us that his informal adoption into the family after he shared his story with us changed his life, saying, “Thank you Ford Motor Company, for showing that Built Ford Tough® is only on the outside and that you have a warm spot in your heart.”
How does your Ford help you go further? Join the conversation and share your story with us!