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Auto shops band together to restore woman's stolen smile

9:16 PM, Sep 20, 2011   |    comments
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"We've worked on this nonstop for two weeks," owner Don Leeder said.

Every bit of it was worth it when they saw Jovan Williams walk in.

She saw her sparkling blue Jeep and couldn't find words to describe her surprise. She just put her hands over her mouth and hugged Leeder.

He puts his arm around her and explained, "A few of the community business leaders got together and fixed it up."

Near the end of August, someone stole Williams' Jeep. Two weeks later, she was at a restaurant when she saw her Jeep and a man get into it. She says she confronted him and even called 911, but he got away.

Soon after, Aurora Police found it, but it was trashed. The thief had put soda in the gas tank, he'd broken off every part he could. He'd keyed the "B"-word across the hood.

When Leeder saw it, he saw the malice of the thief and that really bothered him. He realized no one had stepped up to help Williams and then realized that person could be him.

"I had the Jeep at my business. I knew that I could be the one to do it," he said.

There was so much damage he knew he couldn't do it all on his own. He made 12 phone calls. Ten other businesses jumped in to help.

"I was blown away by their generosity to help someone they'd never met," Leeder said. "We got a brand new set of tires, a new windshield, a new paint job, and anything under the hood that needed to be replaced is new."

It was a bumper-to-bumper overhaul.

"This cannot be real. Oh my gosh!" Williams said.

As she kept looking at her Jeep, she kept finding new treasures. There is a personalized license plate. There is an anti-theft device and a new car seat for her son.

Her husband, Lyle, has been keeping this secret for two weeks.

"She was devastated. She loved the Jeep and now she is elated. It is great to see," he said.

Jovan Williams can't stop smiling.

"It is so pretty! It is better than new," she said.

Leeder says this experience has meant a lot to him too.

"It is just amazing the way the community responded. We made 12 calls and 10 businesses stepped up to help," he said.

Police have found and arrested the man they say did all the damage, but Jovan Williams says this day is about the good not the bad.

Jovan Williams says the support of this group of strangers far outweighs the cruelty of another.

"I'm shocked. I'm shocked and so thankful to everyone who helped," she said.

She asked that 9NEWS convey a special thank you to all the businesses that helped rebuild her Jeep:

-O'Reilly's Auto Parts at Hampden and Tower
-Wheel & Tire Autosports on South Havana
-Preferred Glass at Iliff and Wabash
-4 Wheel Parts at I-70 and Peoria
-My Body Man at Buckley Road near 3rd Ave.
-Bubbles Car Wash at Hampden and Tower
-Seven Hills at Veterinary Center (donated the car seat)
-Midas at Smokey Hill and Buckley
-Victor at Parker and Son
-Texaco Xpress Lube on Hampden and Tower
-Texaco Xpress Lube at Union and Jewel

(KUSA-TV © 2011 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)

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