Several local auto shop owners and volunteers gathered on Saturday August 21 to rebuild and modernize Kaleb Duckworth’s truck in honor of the 19-year-old who tragically lost his life in July following a fight at the Dawson County Applebee Restaurant.
Brad Ash, owner of Forsyth County-based Moonlight Performance and Auto, said he saw several social media posts about Duckworth. Ash, who does a lot of performance upgrades and repairs on Chevrolet trucks, had never met Duckworth or his family members, but learned via social media how much the teenager loved his truck, so he contacted Duckworth’s father, Tommy, with an offer.
“I kept seeing it popping up on the internet when all of this was happening,” Ash said. “I saw the truck meet and Tommy and Amanda were in Kaleb’s truck and I said ‘OK he has a Chevrolet’ so I wrote Tommy that ‘Hey, if there’s anything thing to do for the truck, I would like to do it. ‘ He said it would be great because it’s something Kaleb had always wanted.
While Ash wasn’t sure what specific repairs and additions Duckworth would have liked, he had spent enough time with trucks to know what someone Duckworth’s age liked most. So he told Tommy Duckworth that he would love to donate the labor and parts to fix the truck his son had loved so much.
Tommy Duckworth and his wife, Amanda, were touched by the offer and gladly accepted. As Ash’s idea spread throughout the automotive community, several other local auto store owners offered to donate time, parts and labor to participate as well.
“Word got out and a few other stores went out and bought parts here and there,” Ash said. “Basically we rebuilt the whole engine, a whole new transmission, new seats, everything in one day. There was me, Expert Auto Care, Gerald’s Automotive, and John Tessier donated the drivetrain. Then Silver City Tire came in after the fact and donated a full set of tires for the truck.
Ash and the other volunteers spent the whole of Saturday working on the car. Ash said they worked on every part of the truck except the rear, which Duckworth replaced just before he passed away.
They even personalized the new seats they installed, embroidered “In Memory of Kaleb Duckworth”. Although they were unsure at first whether or not they could complete it in a day, Ash said they managed to do it through a lot of teamwork.
“About three of us got here around 7 or 8 Saturday morning, and there was no fault – everyone participated, everyone did their part and it was just perfect,” said Ash. “It was honestly meant to be the way I see it.”
Tommy and Amanda Duckworth, along with two of Kaleb’s best friends, stayed and watched all day while the project was underway. According to Amanda, seeing so many people she had never met working to restore and modernize her son’s truck has touched her and her husband deeply.
“We didn’t even know anyone; we introduced ourselves and it was so many people loving him even though they didn’t even know him, ”Amanda said. “Just to know that a lot of people understood what the truck meant to him and wanted to help fix it – there was so much love in this place that they made us feel like family when we were there.”
Throughout the day at work on the truck, the Duckworth family got to know each of the volunteers in attendance, and Amanda said by the time they left they felt like family. Ash said he felt like he got to know not only the Duckworth family, but Kaleb himself, through the stories his family told.
“The best part of it all was probably hearing all the stories about Kaleb; he just looked like a pretty cool kid, ”Ash said. “I wish I could have met him. ”
Ash said the main reason he personally dedicated time and effort to the truck project was because he deeply understands what the family is going through. Ash’s 3-year-old daughter was tragically killed in a car crash in 2010, so he said reaching out and comforting a family going through what he experienced over a decade ago was extremely important for him.
“When my daughter died Facebook wasn’t a big deal… and I had my family and my help for sure, but one of the best parts of it all was probably that everyone got it. wind of it, they all participated and I didn’t have to ask anyone, ”Ash said. “So I know exactly what they’re going through, but if it was just a day of peace in their chaos, it was worth it to me.” ”
Ash and Amanda Duckworth both said the best part of the project was when the truck was finally done and they got it going for the first time.
“We cried; when kids are passionate about their engines and stuff like that, the sound is what they’re looking for,” Amanda said. “We know what Kaleb likes with trucks – the louder it is, the better – so that was the highlight of the day. ”
Amanda Duckworth said she knows her son would have loved the finished truck, and that fixing and upgrading it is a great way to honor his memory. The group of mechanics even went so far as to “commit a sin” to make the auto world honor what Kaleb wanted.
“It’s a Chevrolet truck and our son had a Ford muffler in the bed his grandfather gave him, and he was trying to save enough money to pay to put it there,” Amanda said. Duckworth. “The mechanic said ‘you know it’s a sin to put a Ford muffler on a Chevrolet, right?’ But then he said ‘if that’s what Kaleb wants, we’ll do it’ so there’s a Ford muffler on it.
Amanda said fixing the truck as it is and driving it is a way for her and her husband to feel close to their son.
“Being in this truck is like Kaleb; he loved this truck so much it’s like an extension of him, so being able to fix his truck the way he wanted is so good, ”said Amanda Duckworth. “Some people go to the cemetery to be with their loved ones and so do we, but it’s like having a piece of it – you walk in there and it smells like it, and you can just feel it there with you.”