Dwyane Wells is the kind of guy willing to do anything for anyone.
A veteran himself, Wells now works at Veterans Bridge, a nonprofit that helps connect veterans with the support they need to be successful in the community.
Wells was attending a recent Veteran’s Day event when a coworker told him they needed to drive to Lake Norman Hyundai to help award a veteran a new car.
“I was like, 'Okay, let's go,'" Wells.
Because that’s the kind of guy Wells is: If someone needs something, he’ll do whatever he can to make it happen.
Little did Wells know, that deserving veteran who was going to get a new car was him.
To get to where we are today, we have to look back at what made Wells the man is his today.
A path to purpose: A path to purpose
Wells is a Charlotte native and graduate of East Mecklenburg High school.
“I was a little lost as an 18-year-old coming fresh out of high school,” Wells said.
Wells enlisted in the Army as a combat engineer, graduated from the US Army Combat Engineering School in Ft. Leonard, MO and was stationed at Warner Barracks, Bamberg Germany and The National Training Center in Ft. Irwin, California.
“And that changed me from a young kid into a man,” Wells said. “It made me who I am today. I don't think I'd be the same person if I had not joined the military at a young age.”
A career of helping veterans: A career of helping veterans
Wells spent several years working in the human services field, where he worked with individuals diagnosed with developmental disabilities.
“Dwayne is an amazing individual. I've known him for several years,” said Victoria Garland, a former coworker. “The thing that's so amazing about Dwayne is that he will look to help anybody no matter what the circumstances are. It's not just veterans. It's not just people with individual disabilities. It's anyone he comes into contact with. He's the one you call when you're in a jam and he'll find a way to work it out.”
Wells joined Veterans Bridge Home Team as a care coordinator in 2018. He works to assist veterans with legal, mental health, housing and so much more.
“I take pleasure in being able to hang up the phone and know that the person on the other end is going to be okay,” Wells said. “Whether it's a veteran, whether it's a spouse, whether it's the sister, the daughter of a veteran, I take pride in being able to say, ‘Hey, this is something that we can do. This is something we can get you assisted with.’"
Helping one veteran at a time: Helping one veteran at a time
Wells has helped countless veterans throughout his career, but one stands out in particular.
“I had a young lady call me and she's like, ‘My father lives under a bridge,”” Wells said.
He immediately asked which bridge and drove there.
“I called out his name and he came down the hill. And we talked, I said, ‘I'm going to get this turned in for you,’” Wells said.
Later that day Wells returned to the bridge and brought the veteran to a hotel.
The veteran has been living on the street for more than 10 years. His daughter said he missed most of her life and she wanted to get him stable.
She stayed in contact with Wells through the last several months.
“That guy is doing well now. We've got him stable in the hotel, and we're looking at getting him transitioned into something else,” Wells said.
Wells is known by many in the community for always putting others first.
And now it’s his turn to be in the spotlight.
He never quits: He never quits
“Oh, I am thrilled. Dwayne has given so much for so many people and really puts everyone else first, to have something new and exciting as a brand new car for him is incredible,” Garland said.
When Wells walked into the showroom of Lake Norman Hyundai last week he still didn’t know he was the one being honored.
He drove to the dealership with coworker Steven Cole.
“So he had me fooled all the way up here,” Wells said.
Cole nominated Wells for the Hyundai Hometown Hero award.
“Dwayne is tenacious. He never quits and is always looking for a way to help others, “ Cole said. “You will not find a better candidate for this car than Dwyane Wells.”
While Wells and Cole were waiting in the showroom, Wells received a call from WCNC Charlotte anchor Sarah French to let him know he was the one being awarded as a hometown hero. He dropped to his knees when he heard the news.
“I'm amazed at being selected for this,” Wells said. “There's probably a thousand other individuals that deserve it just as much as I do, but to be selected, I'm just at a loss.”
Wells was in shock over the recognition and cried tears of joy when managing partner Cam Stewart of Lake Norman Hyundai handed him the keys to his new 2020 Hyundai Santa Fe.
"Here are your car keys, sir. And we appreciate your service, and everything you've done for us, all the veterans and our country providing our freedom," said Stewart said.
Humbled by the honor, Wells wiped away tears from his face.
“To see tears stream down a grown man's face, you can't beat it,” said Stewart. “It’s very touching. You just feel such a thankfulness and gratefulness, because we have freedom because these guys serve and then they come back to the community, and someone like Dwayne who helps others transition back into our community and helps with jobs and that kind of thing. It's special what he does for their families.”
The Hyundai Hometown Hero award is just one small token of gratitude to recognize Wells and every member of the military for their service.
"Honestly, the best part of our job is saluting and recognizing individuals like yourself," Stewart said and he showed Wells his new car.
"I'm so appreciative of everyone involved, and I'm so excited to just continue the mission, but in my new car," Wells said.