Pay It 4ward: Friend thanks Air Force veteran, club member for commitment to community

[anvplayer video=”5153715″ station=”998122″]

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – From the Armed Forces to food drives and fundraisers, a New Mexico man has spent most of his life looking out for others.

Tonight, it’s someone else’s turn to look out for him.

“He’s done so much for his country, the community and humanity in general,” said Bobby Gonzales, Pay It 4ward nominator. 

Dean Brubaker has dedicated his entire life to serving others.

“He was raised in born and raised in Indiana, came to New Mexico spent his whole life and- well in the military and New Mexico Edwards Air Force Base fighting fires after the military,” said Gonzales. “He’s been tasked with the highest security levels of firefighting clearances that there are, protecting our most intimate national secrets.”

For the past 40 years, he’s continued to serve as a member of the Gold Prospectors Association of New Mexico. In addition to caring for the environment, the group also cares for the community.

“Food drives, school supplies, everything else for the communities and stuff like that,” Gonzales said. 

But this year, Brubaker took a step back.

“He’s currently dealing with chemotherapy and fighting cancer,” said Gonzales. “He couldn’t attend the Christmas party this last week, and we were very saddened by that.”

So, Gonzales and several others with GPANM found another way to reach out to their friend, and say a well-deserved “thank you.”

After a short drive around the corner, the group surprised Brubaker with $400 in his front yard.

“Come on out here. Dean. We want to tell you how much we love you,” said Gonzales. “We had this made up for you in sincere appreciation for your selfless, lifelong commitment and service to those most in need.”

They presented him with a copper pan, one of the organization’s highest honors, and they didn’t stop there. 

“I want to say a few words real quick. We are humbled by the service that you provided to our nation and community throughout your entire life. In most recent times, the past 40 years, you’ve been committed to the community and you’ve always been front and center with GPANM to help provide food and critical family essentials to those most in need. Year in and year out. Thousands have benefited from your selfless acts, and you’ve never expected or asked for anything in return,” said Gonzales. 

Gonzales had one last surprise before we left.

“I know that you have been struggling with your health, and you’ve been kind of a little bit self-conscious about your hair. As a show of support today, I’m going to have my hair cut, and in your honor,” Gonzales said. 

Watch the video above to see the heartfelt “thank you” in full.