Dr. Bill Daily was on his way to Memorial Hospital in Belleville, Illinois when he hit a pothole that resulted in a flat tire. Time was of the essence for the doctor as he rushed to perform heart surgery.
Even worse, his flat tire occurred in East St. Louis, an area known for gang activity and one of the highest murder rates in the country.
Instead of finding trouble, the doctor found help from the locals. As he attempted to refill his tire at a local gas station he realized the attempt was futile. That’s when he met East St. Louis resident Mike Austin. He was working at the gas station at the time as a construction worker and noticed the look of distress on Daily’s face.
When he heard the doctor’s story, the local hero offered him a ride to the hospital.
“I told him everything would be OK,” Austin recalls. “Then I said, ‘We will get you there, Doc.’”
He hopped in the stranger’s car and made it to the hospital in time to perform the life saving procedure. “I was happy to help him help someone else,” Austin says.
After the surgery, Daily returned to the gas station where he left his car. Station owner Mohanad Nasser then helped Daily change his tire right before closing up for the night.
“God created the world and us to help one another. We wish the best for each other,” said Nasser, a Palestinian immigrant and father of two.
When Daily offered to pay Austin and Nasser, they both refused.
“East St. Louis gets a bad ticket, but we look out for our neighbors,” Austin said. “That’s all I was doing.”
“I have been here seven years and never had any problems,” he said. “Treat people with respect and they will do the same,” Nasser added.
Daily was grateful for the help and had nothing but kind things to say for the often dangerous neighborhood. “There was no fear. There was no trouble. I only found people who wanted to help and did it with such grace. You don’t know where you will find these unexpected kindnesses.”