Kellie B Gormly
THE WASHINGTON POST – Derlin Newey, 89, had been praying for prosperity. But he wasn’t expecting the surprise answer to come hidden in a pizza box filled with a different kind of dough.
Newey, who lives in the Roy area of Utah, has supplemented his Social Security income for a little over a year by delivering food for Papa John’s Pizza.
When Newey delivered a large pineapple pizza to Gladys Valdez a few weeks ago with a smile and struck up a conversation – saying “Hi, gorgeous!” – Valdez was completely charmed. Usually, she said, delivery men just said hello and hand her a receipt.
“He was just so friendly, really talkative, and just super sweet and genuine,” said Valdez, 32, an artist who makes eyelash extensions and T-shirt designs.
She told her husband Carlos Valdez, 34, about the kind deliveryman, and even showed him the doorbell camera footage. In the video, Newey tells her that he had driven by her house countless times over the decades on his way to his nearby church.
Carlos Valdez was so taken with Newey’s friendliness and earnestness – and the fact that he was delivering pizza at his age – that he posted the doorbell camera footage on TikTok.
His followers loved Newey. They left tens of thousands of “hearts” and comments including “Oh my gosh my heart just melted” and “OMG I love him and want to give him a giant hug.”
The Valdez family ordered pizza a few more times and requested Newey as the delivery guy. They posted two more doorbell videos, including one that got more than two-and-a-half-million views.
Carlos Valdez wanted to do something nice for Newey. He was, after all, 89 years old and delivering pizza door to door.
Valdez decided to crowdfund on Newey’s behalf via a Venmo link on his TikTok page, and within 24 hours, he had raised more than USD1,000. Donations ranged from a mere penny – you can actually donate just a cent on Venmo – to USD500. Thousands of people gave small amounts of a dollar or less. It all added up to more than USD12,000.
Then came the surprise delivery. Carlos Valdez did it by flipping the script on Newey.
First, he called Papa John’s and asked for the restaurant’s cheapest menu item – chicken wings for about USD10 – and requested that Newey be the one to deliver it. When Newey came, Carlos Valdez gave him a USD20 tip, and told him that the internet had fallen head over heels for him, and the community had a surprise for him. Newey gave him his contact information, so that Valdez could deliver the surprise to him.
They agreed to meet on September 22 at Newey’s mobile home, where he was expecting something like a T-shirt, Valdez said. Instead, when Newey opened the door to his mobile home, Valdez was standing there holding an empty pizza box, which he had stuffed with an envelope full of all the cash – USD12,069.71. Newey was flabbergasted, and his eyes filled with tears.
In a now-viral TikTok video, a shellshocked Newey cries with joy, “How do I ever say thank you? I don’t know what to say!”
Several days after the cash delivery, Newey reflected on his good fortune.
“It’s beautiful,” Newey told The Washington Post. “I mean, who makes that kind of tip?”