CUMMING, Ga. — As COVID-19 continues to spike across metro Atlanta, one community was devastated to learn about the diagnosis of one of its own. Now, the absence of their unsung hero is uniting them in support.
Daniel Garcia is a man known and beloved for his smile.
"He's always smiling,” Nancy Wesley said. “It's always how are you - you can't help but be impacted by him.
A long-time employee of Polo Golf & Country Club in Cumming, Daniel is not only a fixture of the community but, as Nancy says, the heart of it.
"He lightens up everybody's day when you see him,” she said.
But that smile is missing these days. Daniel has been hospitalized for the past month on a ventilator suffering from pneumonia and collapsed lungs, due to the effects of COVID-19.
The husband, father of four, and grandfather of 14 is fighting for his life. But what he doesn't know is that a community is fighting for him, too.
“There are people that, whether you know it or not, that you impact, that - that care about you,” Nancy said.
Concerns over mounting medical bills prompted Nancy and others to organize an online fundraiser, raising more than $30,000 in a matter of days. Others are chipping in to help with home repairs.
"[Daniel] is just a genuine person, loving, always asks about my family," David Bond, manager of Polo Golf and Country Club, told 11Alive.
While the GoFundMe is not affiliated with the club, Bond said he's also working to help Daniel via the company's corporate employee care foundation. Such financial assistance can help cover the family's monthly bills.
"A lot of times you don't know the impact you have on people," Bond added. "Just the smiles and the waves, so many people love Daniel and I don't think he knows that."
His daughter Daniela Owens waits for the day she can tell her dad about the blessings that have unfolded.
"I know I love my dad, but to see his job, the community, everything they have done, it's just very fulfilling,” she said. “That's what's keeping us up. That we're praying together, we're in it together.”
They’ve become a community united in the face of the unknown.
“I can't help him get better, I can't help his family feel better, but what I can do is this,” Nancy said.
She said the outpouring of support is a testament to Daniel - a sign of all those who love him and a sign of faith that he will come home.
“We're just staying positive,” Daniela said. “He will come home. He will come home.”