Wheelchair-accessible van donated to Colorado man paralyzed while helping stranger

DENVER - This is a story about helping people you don't know.

It all started about two years ago.

"That was a day to remember," Orlando Reed told FOX31.

Reed, who was then 51 years old, was walking home from hanging out with friends when he encountered a woman who needed help.

He said the woman had a swollen eye, a broken nose and blood all over her face.

"She just kind of collapsed in my arms," Reed said. "She told me her boyfriend had just beaten [her] up."

The woman didn't want Reed to call paramedics, but instead help her get to her motel room. So, that's what Reed did.

He said he was helping the woman clean up when the boyfriend arrived.

That's the moment Reed's life changed forever.

"I didn’t hear no gunshots go off," Reed recalls. "I just remember facing this direction and next thing I know, I was facing opposite direction on my knees."

Reed said he initially did not realize he had been shot.

"I didn’t feel it and I’m trying to move and I can’t move," he said.

Reed would never walk again. He spent a lot of time in bed with a wound on his back that still hasn't healed, in part because the wheelchair he was given wasn't built for a man his size.

However, his luck improved when a stranger began helping Reed.

Tom Hollinshead saw a story about Reed on the news and something struck him.

"I saw how helpless he was and he paid a huge price for it," Hollinshead told FOX31. "And no one was helping him and I couldn't walk away from that."

So, Hollinshead befriended Reed and began helping him as much as he could.

Unbeknownst to the two of them, another random stranger would hear about Reed's story and wanted to help, too.

"I remember my brother saying, 'I’m sick of sitting behind four walls,' and the day we got that van, that all changed," said Carol Banks, talking about a van that was wheelchair accessible.

Her brother Leonard was paralyzed in a skiing accident a number of years ago. Unfortunately, he passed away in May.

"I miss my brother horribly," Banks said. "There are times I just want to call him and tell him what’s going on. But he’s here. I feel him."

On Saturday, Banks could certainly feel her brother as she was donating his van and motorized chair to Reed in an event organized by Hollinshead.

"Somebody that I don’t even know wanted to help me and they don’t even know me... first time in my life that someone has helped me like this," said Reed in his new wheelchair that fits him, with tears in his eyes.

"I’m bonded to the guy for life," he said.

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