New car symbolizes new life for Tampa man

10 On the Road

The turn off Grady Avenue was smooth and steady. Willie Reese navigated the roads near his Tampa church like someone who has been driving every day for years.

Hard to believe it’s only been a month since he hit the gas pedal. The last time he had a driver’s license was 1996.

“I never in a million years imagined I’d be driving a car again,” he said.

Some poor choices cost him his freedom and ability to do what he wanted. Cocaine and prison nearly took it all away.

“It cost me my life man. Drugs is a dead-end street,” he said, ironically sitting just a few feet from a DEAD END road sign. “If you want success in your life, stay away from drugs.”

Getting away from his past potholes required rehab and a new church family. For the past two years, the 68-year old former professional golfer and caddie has been attending Without Walls International Church in Tampa.

“I first saw Willie one day when I was at the movies,” said church Pastor Randy White. “Everyone knew Willie. We became friends and he started coming to the church. We've watched his life change, and I am proud of him.”

Church members were moved enough by Reese’s story that an anonymous donor gave him a car. He was reliant on the public bus system.

“I was surprised,” said Reese. “Pastor Randy called me up to the pulpit and said somebody donated a car and handed me the key. That was one of my biggest, greatest surprises of my life. After church, went out, put the key in the ignition and started it up.”

Now, he can drive wherever he needs.

“That’s no limitation,” he said with a bright smile. “That’s added freedom.”

Without Walls International Church presented Reese with his car, including insurance and registration, on July 18.

The smile never left his face as he navigated the Tampa streets.

“I learned that God puts people in your path for a reason,” he said. “I’ve got a lot of wonderful people in my life.”

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