January 25, 2022 by By Cathy Stack
Casey and John had been traveling from Maryland to North Carolina when their 36-hour nightmare began. They planned to visit family before the couple moved to Germany for John’s new position in the Air Force. They expected the road trip to last five hours, but a massive snowstorm led to ice-related collisions, and the state closed a 50-mile stretch of the highway for safety reasons.
With traffic stopped and no clear information on when the highway would reopen, some drivers abandoned their cars and set out on foot. Others, like Casey and Joe, turned off the ignition to save gas and hunkered down in their vehicles. They tried their best to stay warm. Nearby towns lost power due to the storm, which left few options for refuge.
By the following day, exhaustion, frustration and hunger set in. A cold night and little sleep left them feeling depleted and with little strength or energy.
“Many of the people stuck out here had small children, were elderly, had pets in the car and hadn’t eaten in almost a whole day,” Casey said.
At 21 hours into the ordeal, Casey noticed a bread truck among the stopped vehicles ahead of them. It was as if the stars aligned and her prayers were answered, she said. In a stroke of brilliance, she called Schmidt Baking Company, the owner of the truck. She left a message on the company’s customer service line, asking if the truck driver could share the baked goods with stranded drivers. She didn’t know if they would take her request seriously, but she wanted to try.
Her idea worked. Incredibly, Schmidt CEO Chuck Paterakis personally returned Casey’s call within 20 minutes. He asked her to hand her phone to the company truck driver, Ron, and then directed Ron to hand out loaves of bread to the people on I-95. Chuck said he was proud to offer any help he could.
Casey, John and Ron were thrilled to pass out the loaves along the icy, slush-covered highway to as many people as possible. Among those to receive the nourishment were elderly passengers and families with children and pets. They all felt incredibly thankful for the offering of food and some relief after so many hours waiting in the cold.
Later that day, the couple and the other drivers were able to resume their travel to their destination.
“It felt incredible,” Casey said. “This was one of the kindest moments I have ever witnessed."
The unexpected gift from Schmidt Baking Company offered the travelers relief from their misery. It provided them with the fuel they needed to continue their journey in a more positive mindset. Everyone left the scene with nourishment and with the knowledge that good people wanted to help during such a trying time.
“This company is incredible,” Casey said. She thanked the Schmidt Baking Company for their compassion and for choosing humanity over profit in a time of crisis.
PassItOn and The Foundation For A Better Life believe that Casey Holihan and Chuck Paterakis are heroes. Their combined action is a great example of the value of helping others. Please help us celebrate Casey and Chuck by sharing their heartwarming story.
Watch Video Here: https://youtu.be/tPW-KaFX_Ds
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