When Alan Vandevander walked into Whole Foods in Scottsdale, Arizona, he just wanted to find a roll of Life Savers candy to help boost his sugar so he wouldn’t pass out. Little did he know, also shopping in that store were Al and Stephanie Blackbird. Although everyone else seemed to walk by the disheveled man hunched down in the aisle, Stephanie couldn’t just walk by.
It was clear to Stephanie that he didn’t fit in at the notoriously expensive store, but the emaciated man simply stared at the high priced candy as he clutched a $5 bill. Stephanie couldn’t just walk away, so she struck up a conversation with the man who turned out to be a homeless veteran. They felt bad for Alan and bought him some more food.
Still, after going home, they couldn’t get him off their minds. So the next night, on Christmas Eve, the couple went searching for Alan in the desert where he said he stayed. After two hours searching, they finally found Alan huddled inside of a makeshift home. He had been living out there for some 20 years. They gave him more food and tried to convince him to go to a shelter, but he refused.
The couple went home that night and still were determined to help the man get the medical help he needed. Alan had admitted that he had trouble eating because he had been poisoned a few weeks early and his stomach wasn’t good anymore.
On Christmas Day they went back to visit Alan again, and after a lot of persuasion, they finally convinced Alan to let them take him to a hospital. It turns out that Alan was dehydrated, malnourished, and had even had a heart attack.
While Alan was getting the care he needed, the couple dug deeper into Alan’s story and found out that he was a decorated Vietnam veteran with a purple heart. His life had been traumatic even before going to war.
Alan had lost his mother at the hands of another person when he was just six years old. He had family in Indiana, but had no idea where they were. Stephanie managed to track them down.
As it turns out, his family had been trying to find him for 38 years. With the help of Stephanie and Al, Alan contacted advocates with the VA so he could get benefits, and even was able to talk to his younger sister.
Check out the video below to learn more about Alan’s story and how Stephanie and Al stepped in to help and be sure to share it with your family and friends.