A Garland family whose home was destroyed in the EF4 tornado is moving into a Colleyville mansion Friday, thanks to the generosity of a millionaire stranger who saw NBC 5's storm coverage and wanted to do something to help.
Ron Sturgeon is a junkyard-owner-turned-commercial-real-estate-investor who's made millions over his career.
"My dad died when I was a senior in high school and I was left all alone," Sturgeon said. "I've been homeless. I lived in a mobile home for a really, really long time. I'm self-made, and so it is a special thing for me to be able to help such a deserving family."
He's been trying to sell an 8,000-square foot, five-bedroom Colleyville mansion for a while, priced just under $2 million. Now, it's temporarily off the market as he's putting up two tornado-affected families for a few months—one family will have the upstairs, while the other is the downstairs.
"It's a real honor. I don't do warm and fuzzy very good. I don't get to help as much as I probably should, but this is a really good opportunity and I feel really good," Sturgeon said.
The first family moved in Friday afternoon, and only NBC 5 was there as the Sturgeon handed over the keys.
"Here's your copy of the lease, it's $1 a month for three months," Sturgeon said. "Please make it feel like a home again."
Catherine Jenkins is a single mother and full-time caretaker for her daughter, Amber Jenkins, who lost the use of her arms and legs in a swimming pool accident eight years ago.
Their Garland house was destroyed in the Dec. 26 tornado, and they've had to bounce around the state over the last two weeks, staying with friends and relatives as far away as Bonham, because Amber Jenkins needed a specialized car.
The Jenkinses say having a home base for the next few months allows them to relax and get caught up on paperwork and applications, as well as medical needs for Amber Jenkins.
"I need to get started on trying to find a new van for her," Catherine Jenkins said. "We have to call and get her wheelchair fixed because it was damaged in the tornado, and I haven't had any time to be able to make calls on that."
"It is just overwhelming. We're going to be so happy just to be able to rest finally," she added. "This is beyond anything I ever dreamed."
"It's been really difficult, and this is going to make life so much easier," Amber Jenkins said.
Amber Jenkins smiled from ear to ear as she explored each room Friday.
"What were you thinking right when you got into this house?" asked NBC 5's Jeff Smith.
"Oh! Something like that," she said, laughing. "Something like, 'This is the most gorgeous thing I've ever seen in my life.'"
"I'm just really excited and overwhelmed by the generosity," she added. "I can't believe we get this opportunity. It's going to be such an adventure."
Ron Sturgeon and his assistant are still processing applications for a second family to live upstairs.
He also has a second, larger mansion nearby that is also unused—it's nearly 10,000 square feet—and he wants to put two more tornado-affected families there as well.