Justin Timberlake Buys Wheelchair-Accessible Van for Teen With Cerebral Palsy
By CBS News
Jake Stitt is known in Morristown, Tennessee, for spreading joy. Jake, who has cerebral palsy, often sits outside in his wheelchair with a sign that reads "Honk if you're happy." This week, the 17-year-old wasn't just happy — he was ecstatic.
Jake is known as a local celebrity, and the town wanted to thank him for his positivity. Jake's dad, Tim Stitt, is a military veteran and his son's sole caregiver.
Stitt began to lose function in his hands after years of having to lift his son in and out of their van, CBS affiliate WVLT-TV reports. "I'm just worried about dropping him. So, I'm going to have to have surgery or a procedure done to fix that," the father said.
To help the family, the town began to raise money for a new wheelchair-accessible van, which would make it easier for Jake to get in and out of the car, without putting a strain on his dad. Actor Michael Abbott Jr., who is from Morristown but now works in New York, started the fundraiser, which amassed thousands of dollars in just days, according to WVLT.
However, the fundraiser still came up short — that is until a superstar donor and fellow Tennessean pitched in. Justin Timberlake, who is from Memphis, bought the $35,000 van for the Stitts, CBS affiliate WJHL-TV reports.
"He caught the story and was just very touched with what was going on with this thing and he wanted to reach out and decided that he wanted to purchase the van for Jacob and his needs," Stitt told WJHL. Timberlake got on a private Zoom call with the Stitts last Wednesday to share the good news.
"It was just a very blessing to be able to speak to that gentleman and for him to be able to meet Jake and see what he needed," Stitt said.
Just hours later, the new van pulled up to their house, followed by a parade. It was decorated with Alabama logos, since Jake is a big fan of the Crimson Tide.
"It's going to make my life a lot easier because there's not many people that can lift him up and sit him in a van like he needs," Stitt said. "It's going to make our lives so much easier because of the independence he's going to have as a young man now."
Now that Timberlake purchased the van outright, the money raised by the community will go directly to the Stitts, WJHL reports.
"God's always provided for us and we keep our faith and we're thankful everyday," Stitt said. "It is a true meaning to Thanksgiving ... and it's a blessing to our family to make us be able to have peace and relax more and not have to have worries is amazing. It's very humbling."
Jake had simple words for his story: "It was a blessing and God bless."
First published by CBS News on November 30, 2020 / 1:45 PM