Eliot Middleton cherishes the memories of growing up with his dad, a skilled mechanic who was as close as a person could get to being a car whisperer. Young Eliot soaked up the knowledge he gained watching his dad work, developing his own useful skillset. Though Eliot pursued his career as a restaurant owner, his dad’s lessons remained close to his heart.
Sadly, the now 38-year-old lost his dad last year. Eliot, however, refuses to let his father’s legacy disappear. In honor of his late dad, Eliot began a life-changing project that put his dad’s lessons to use. The restaurant owner requested donations of broken-down cars from his community, cars that he fixes up and donates to people in need.
Public transportation is less than ideal in the rural South Carolina town, so access to a car is life-changing for those on the receiving end of Eliot’s generosity.
“You don’t have a car, you don’t have a career. How will people who have no reliable buses, no Ubers, travel to the city, where they would be able to find bigger jobs at the port authorities or manufacturing centers?” Eliot told CNN. “They can’t walk 40, 50, 60 miles to great jobs — they have to settle for small-end jobs that pay well below what they need to survive.”
Eliot has fixed and donated 105 cars so far, and he isn’t slowing down
The CNN story featuring Eliot’s project stirred something in his community and beyond. People were both moved and inspired, and Eliot’s selflessness drove complete strangers to action. Nearly 800 people came forward to offer their broken-down cars to the cause, and Eliot’s GoFundMe has nearly reached its lofty $150,000 goal.
In response to the outpouring of support, Eliot founded his very own nonprofit called Middleton’s Village To Village Foundation to organize his larger-than-life project. Eliot’s dad inspired him to make a difference, and now Eliot is inspiring people around the world to do the same.