Area Good Samaritans Escort 79-Year-Old Man On Cross-Country Journey
A TikTok of an Illinois couple helping out a 79-year-old Arizona man find his way to Wisconsin to see a son he hadn't seen in 18 years has gone viral.
Last Tuesday, Dennis Milentz left Heber-Overgaard, Arizona to drive and see his son in Fremont, Wisconsin, who hadn't seen in 18 years.
Lost again, he stopped at a gas station in Woodhull, Illinois where he met Elton Hood and Tracy Eckhardt. Dennis explained he didn't know how to work the GPS in his car and got lost several times, and even had added about 200 miles onto the already 1,660 mile trip. "It broke both of our hearts," Eckhardt said. "How tired is he? Has he eaten? Has he slept? Has he been taking care of himself?”
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So, Elton wrote out the directions on a piece of paper for Dennis, gave him his number, and told him to call if he had any problems. Dennis was on his way, until he called Elton 15 minutes later, lost again.
“Neither one of us could bear the thought of-- if we saw a missing persons alert or if something bad happened to him, if we had the potential to help turn this around and didn’t do it. That was just not going to work for either of us," Eckhardt said.
So, the couple drove to meet up with Dennis, and then led him all the way to his son's house, a four and a half hour drive each way.
Eckhardt recorded the entire trip without Elton ever knowing. “I did it to show him what I see him as so that he could see himself through my eyes and lots of other people’s eyes-- going above and beyond, out of his way to help in his lifetime,” she said.
Elton shared an update with NBC15, saying "After talking to Mr. Dennis’s family on a couple occasions this afternoon, it became apparent that there are some circumstances that aren’t allowing them to escort them back to Arizona."
So, Hood and Eckhardt said they're jumping in the car with Dennis to help him home, even though they have no return plan on how to get home.
Dennis didn’t want to spend $2 on a Rice Krispie Treat. So we compromised and I got him one when he wasn’t looking. ...
Posted by Tracy Eckhardt on Wednesday, July 22, 2020
After using TikTok to ask for help paying for a rental car for their ride home, a couple contacted Eckhardt and bought her and Elton plane tickets.
The group makes the trip this weekend.
Excess donations are being put toward veteran organizations, as Dennis Milentz and Elton Hood are both retired military.
Read more at NBC 15