Richard Henegar Jr., the manager of Quality Auto Paint and Body in Roanoke, teamed up with 10 other businesses to repair the Radford University student’s car, which Addison says was vandalized on four separate occasions because he is gay.
“I was entirely speechless,” the student told the Daily News. “I just walked around saying, ‘Oh, my God, this is not my car.’”
Henegar and fellow volunteers spent 100 hours and over $10,000 adding a new scratch-resistant paint job, new tires, tinted windows, a new stereo, and a new security system to Addison’s 1999 Volkswagen.
“We don’t take kindly to discrimination of any sort here,” Henegar told the Daily News. “I was bullied in high school and a little bit in the service and I saw an opportunity to help somebody out.”
Henegar, who was informed of the situation in the spring by a friend who works at Radford, said he was shocked when he first saw Addison’s trashed car. The student had tried — unsuccessfully — to hide the slurs with spray paint and because he couldn’t afford new tires, had fitted several mismatched pair to his axles.
“As soon as I saw his car, I said, ‘We’re gonna fix this, it’s the least we can do,’” he said.
Getting local businesses to pitch in took a few months, but Henegar says just about everyone he contacted in the industry was more than happy to help.
The effort came together in beginning of August. First, Addison was given a small, red Fiat thanks in part to an Enterprise car rental agency for the two weeks of repairs. At that point, Henegar had only told Addison that his door would be repaired.
Working at night after hours and on weekends, Henegar and his team repaired the damaged car, inviting Addison back in August 20 for his big surprise.
“It just restored my faith, my good faith, in people,” Addison said.
The aspiring Ph.D. student moves back to college on August 23. He said he plans to park his revamped car in a gated parking lot with camera surveillance.
“It’s a spot that I paid for so no one will mess with it,” he said.