Hendrick Dealership Helps Mom Fulfill Promise to Deployed Son
Hunter White, a 23-year-old resident of Birmingham, Ala., deployed to Afghanistan on Easter morning, 2018. As his mom, Lisa, hugged him goodbye, she promised to do everything she could to have a 2019 Toyota 4Runner TRD Pro waiting in the driveway when he got home.
“I knew there would not be a lot for my son to look forward to over there, and since I knew he had his eye on the 2019 4Runner TRD Pro, I made a commitment that day that I’d do everything I could to get one. Little did I know at the time how challenging that would be,” Lisa shared.
Hunter traveled from Birmingham to Camp Lejeune, to Ireland, to Kuwait, until eventually being selected for a highly esteemed outpost in Afghanistan. Although this was an honor for Hunter, Lisa knew it was one of the most dangerous places he could be, which caused her to throw all her nervous energy into locating the car of her son’s dreams.
Hunter trained with the Afghan National Police while conducting operations in Helmand Province, Afghanistan.
“I started by calling dealerships in all the surrounding areas, but I kept coming up empty-handed,” Lisa said. “Dealerships were telling me that it was months too early for them to secure a 2019 model. And to further complicate it, the color and design Hunter was looking for were next to impossible to find. That’s when I called my mom, Betty, to see if she had any ideas.”
Betty Van Gerpen lives in Sandy Springs, Ga. and was familiar with the Hendrick Automotive Group dealership in that area. She encouraged Lisa to call the sales team and she promised to stop by in person as a follow-up. Lisa did some research and found the name of the dealership’s Sales Manager, Steve Frazier.
Steve, lovingly referred to as “Frazier” by his teammates, remembers getting Lisa’s call for the first time. “When Lisa called me from Alabama, she spoke so generously of Hunter and his commitment to our country. And before I knew it, I was getting a call from our receptionist that his grandmother had walked into the dealership and requested to speak to me. I could tell this family was standing by the commitment they made to Hunter, and I knew I had to do something."
Frazier quickly made the decision to call his district representative from Toyota, and he briefly explained Hunter’s story and the type of vehicle he was looking for.
“Not only was I looking for a very specific vehicle, but I was hoping to have it arrive within 30 days, so the cards were kind of stacked against us. But as soon as I started sharing Hunter’s story, our district representative said, ‘This is a soldier. We are going to make this happen.’,” Frazier recalls.
And that’s exactly what they did. Within a month, the black-on-black, 2019 Toyota 4Runner TRD Pro was on its way to Rick Hendrick Toyota of Sandy Springs.
“It was so amazing to have the opportunity to call Hunter’s mom, Lisa, to tell her that we had secured the vehicle and that it would arrive in time for Hunter’s homecoming. More than anything, I could tell from her excitement and gratitude just how much it would mean to Hunter,” Frazier said.
When Hunter arrived back in the States in early October, the hardest part was having to wait to pick up his new car, especially as the excitement built amongst him and his family.
“I had been researching the car for so long, and I was so excited when my mom told me that they had found one. It was a surreal day and one I had looked forward to for months,” Hunter shared.
On October 27, 2018, the big day had arrived. Hunter and Lisa traveled from their home in Birmingham to Rick Hendrick Toyota of Sandy Springs in Georgia, only to be greeted by a showroom full of Hendrick teammates and community members.
Hunter meets Steven Frazier at Rick Hendrick Toyota of Sandy Springs.
“I had the privilege of shaking hands with so many amazing people who congratulated me and thanked me for my service, and yet, I still felt so unworthy of something so remarkable. I am so grateful to Frazier and his team for making this all possible,” Hunter said.
Hunter and Lisa were formally introduced to the Hendrick Automotive Group teammates they had spoken over the phone with so many times. Additionally, Sales Associate and Trainer Garrett Black spent over an hour showing Hunter every feature of his new vehicle.
Hunter and Lisa White pose with Hunter’s new vehicle, along with Hendrick teammates John Cardaropoli, Steven Frazier and Garrett Black.
“From the beginning to the end, Frazier and this team cared about my son. When you get turned away from so many other dealerships, it only takes one yes to change the entire course of anexperience. Rick Hendrick Toyota of Sandy Springs was that one ‘yes’ for us, and I will always be grateful for that,” Lisa shared.
Thank you to Steve Frazier, Garrett Black, Melisa Plascencia, and the entire team at Rick Hendrick Toyota of Sandy Springs for making this possible for Hunter and his family. We really appreciate you sharing how much Hendrick cares with the Whites and your greater community.