A Tennessee school bus driver watched with a heavy heart as a mother struggled mightily to get her wheelchair-bound daughter down the steps of their porch.
He knew he had to do something. And in Mitchell's mind, the solution proved simple: He would build a ramp for Verna DeSpain and her 10-year-old special needs daughter, Lydia, even though both were total strangers.
"I knew there was a need," he told InsideEdition.com Thursday. "As soon as I saw it, I knew."
DeSpain, a single mother, had steps leading from her front porch. She had purchased a portable, aluminum ramp to help with Lydia’s chair, but it was unstable and unsafe.
Mitchell was filling in for a sick driver when he stopped to pick up Lydia and saw her mother fighting to get her to the bus.
"I guess it just really struck a chord with him,” DeSpain said. "He saw how hard I struggled."
So at the urging of his wife, Mitchell eventually phoned DeSpain and asked if it would be OK for him to build a wooden ramp and a little porch outside her front door.
"I was amazed," she said. "I was just amazed."
Mitchell enlisted the help of four co-workers and convinced a local Lowe’s to donate all the materials they needed. It took a couple of months to pull everything they needed together, he said.
On a Sunday late last month, the five men arrived at DeSpain’s home and got to work. They got the job done in less than three hours.
Lydia was ecstatic.
"You could just tell by her face," Mitchell said. "She was just smiling from ear to ear."
The child was born with a rare seizure disorder that impaired her mental and physical development, her mother said. Lydia functions at about the psychological level of a toddler.
She has a younger brother, Israel, 7, who dotes on her and acts as her protector.
"He loves the ramp, too," his mom said.
When Lydia saw the ramp, she burst into giggles. "She was very happy and excited. She loves me to push her down it every single day," DeSpain said.
The mom said words fail to describe how thankful she is to Mitchell.
“I don’t think he had any idea how much we needed it and how much it has helped,” she said.
Mitchell says it was no big deal. It’s just the way he and his wife roll.
“We try to help people as much as we can,” he said.