News 12 First at Five, October 16, 2009
AUGUSTA---The nation's first double hand transplant patient is back home in Augusta. One local woman, with the help of some big name businesses, greeted him with a real treat. It's all part of Candye Smith's plan to Give It 4ward.
"This is a surprise," Candye told News 12. "He doesn't know we are coming."
Jeffery Kepner made national news after a successful double hand transplant. News 12 first introduced you to Jeff six months ago. Now, after a five-month ordeal, Jeff is back in Augusta.
"To be back home...I just can't describe being back home," he said.
Give It 4ward rounded up a nice treat for Jeff, starting with a free Petersburg Boat tour on the Augusta Canal.
"Get on that boat, you sit back and you relax, okay?" Candye said.
"I can do that," Jeff said.
And the gifts kept coming.
"The manager at Sticky Fingers--" Candye began.
"Ooh," Jeff said.
"Your favorite!" said Jeff's wife, Valarie.
"Guess what? You've got 20 certificates in here!" Candye said.
Not to mention Ryan's, Chick-fil-A, Arby's, and Golden Corral all getting in on the action.
"It makes me feel good that there are people out there like you that care," Jeff said.
Valarie was in on the surprise.
"Wow," she said. "It was very exciting. I mean, I just didn't know what to expect."
We asked Candye how she did it.
"Call the vendors, let them know what I'm doing, and they say 'We want to participate'," Candye said.
"I think it's wonderful," Valarie said. "I think she's just got a great program and a great ministry, and I think it's just absolutely outstanding what she does."
And Candye's not done.
"Nowhere near done," she said. "I mean it. You never know where Give It 4ward will show up next!"
Jeff lost his hands to a bacterial infection a decade ago. He still doesn't have any feeling in his fingers, but he's learning how to catch a ball and pick up small items.