Wendall and Della Gill of Lexington, Kentucky, had known each other since they were adolescents and had been together for a long time. Their love became stronger over time, and the pair finally chose to marry, resolving to remain faithful to their sentiments for the rest of their lives.
The Gills clasped hands and weathered all the storms of life together, through the highs and lows. Wendall had a day off from work in late August 2018, so he and Della started doing errands. They then made a quick visit to the Lexington, Kentucky, McDonald’s, where Wendall worked.
The couples were weary and hungry, so they decided to eat breakfast together. Della informed her husband she was going to use the restroom while their order was being processed, but she never returned. Wendall felt concerned while waiting for her to return and decided to investigate what was wrong.
Todd, who had become a financial advisor after leaving his McDonald’s job, felt compelled to help the Gill family.
However, what he later discovered crushed his heart into a million pieces. His 63-year-old wife had passed out in the bathroom after having an aneurysm. Della, 83, was promptly brought to the hospital, where she died a few days later, leaving Wendall hopelessly shattered.
Wendall continued to work every day rather than taking time off to grieve and respect his late wife’s memories. It was heartbreaking to see him throw out garbage and clean the facilities after witnessing his sweetheart die in one of them.
Wendall had worked at the Richmond Road McDonald’s for 44 years and couldn’t afford to quit. He wasn’t concerned with himself but rather with the two special needs grandchildren he and Della had adopted years before. He couldn’t just walk away or turn his back on them because they needed him.
Todd Oldfield, an old acquaintance and former McDonald’s employee, popped by for a quick dinner one day at work in September. Todd obtained his first job in June 1978, and the two met decades ago. Todd expressed the following about their initial meeting and how much had changed since then:
“I just thought [Wendall] was an interesting elderly man. I’m now ten years older than he was at the time.”
Todd was surprised to learn of Wendall’s situation while they sat and talked. The elderly man informed him that his wife of more than six decades had sadly died, leaving him and their adopted grandchildren alone and disabled.
Todd wrote on a GoFundMe campaign set up to help Wendall get through the winter of his life, “Wendall is sad, disoriented, and completely empty right now. Wendall must continue working at the business, passing through this restroom, and cleaning it on a regular basis. He doesn’t have any money. He must persevere. He must remain strong.”
Wendall’s eldest adoptive grandson, John Columbia, 33, has autism, while the youngest, Justin Gill, 20, was born with fetal alcohol syndrome. Todd, who had become a financial advisor after leaving his McDonald’s job, felt compelled to help the Gill family.
What began as a Facebook post and a need for assistance turned into an online fundraiser, eventually garnering $75,000—a true moment of surprise, delight, and relief for both Todd and Wendall.
As further donations came in, Todd assisted Wendall in paying off his two vehicles—a van and his home—as well as purchasing a beautiful gravestone for Della. “I AM OVERJOYED TO REPORT THAT ONE MAN HAS COMMITTED TO PAYING FOR THIS. We’ve decided on a grave marker,” “Todd stated.
Before shutting down, the GoFundMe account had received over 2,000 donations and had raised $115,520. Todd stated his desire to see Wendall sit in McDonald’s and enjoy his coffee all day rather than working and cleaning up in a video put on the fundraising website.
Todd decided to do something different to make his good buddy feel special and cherished for all of his hard work over the years. On October 20, 2018, he hosted an “Appreciation Party” at a church near the Lexington McDonald’s location.
Wendall could use a few hugs and words of support from friends, family, and strangers given his awful suffering and heart-stopping experience. The celebration was a huge success, and it warmed Wendall’s heart by making him feel unique and cherished.
At the same time, Todd thanked everyone who came and helped boost his friend’s spirits. “I’d lost some confidence in people until this happened,” he continued.