PAULDING COUNTY, Ga. — A beloved volleyball referee cried happy tears as a group 10 teams and their families surprised him with a car.
Lemuel Buster, a ref at Paulding County Parks and Recreation Department, walked out of the gym earlier this month and was met with a crowd of cheering community members.
"You guys are very important to me," Buster can be heard saying in a video after accepting the generous gift. "Thank you."
Buster, a grandfather and veteran who played volleyball himself in the Navy, has been refereeing at the recreation department since it opened last year. But after 76-year-old's car broke down, he was renting one to ensure he'd never miss a game.
"He's a good man," said Leslie Ashworth, a mom of two whose 13-year-old plays on a team reffed by Buster. "He cares about the girls. He asks my daughter, 'Hey, did your serve get better?' He pays attention and actually enjoys it."
Ashworth told "GMA" that Buster had informed her that his car died. Since it couldn't be repaired, he rented a car to get back and forth to games.
Ashworth and the Paulding County community members began collecting donations. One of the fathers who owns a used car lot donated a Chyrysler Sebring convertible to be gifted to Buster. Minor fixes were made to the vehicle so Buster wouldn't have anything to worry about.
"We wanted to make sure he was taken care of," Ashworth said.
In early May, after a game in Mount Taber Park, team members and their families surprised Buster with the car and $2,000 in gift card donations.
"He was just blown away," Ashworth said. "He cried, we all cried."
"The whole experience," Buster told "GMA," "is a blessing, and I am very thankful and humble."
© 2020 Cox Media Group