TikTok users fell in love with the 89-year-old's "Hello! Are you looking for some pizza?" every time he dropped off an order.
An elderly pizza delivery driver from Roy, Utah, recently learned just how kind and empathetic the internet can be at times. Derlin Newey, who works 30 hours a week at a Papa John's Pizza outlet to make ends meet, received a gift that drastically changed his life after his enthusiasm towards the job left TikTok star Carlos Valdez deeply impressed. He began recording Newey's deliveries to his family's front door and sharing them with his 62.4k TikTok followers — who like Valdez — fell in love with the 89-year-old's "Hello! Are you looking for some pizza?" every time he dropped off an order.
"It's insane. Everybody loves him," Valdez told NBC affiliate KSL. He explained that he was so taken by Newey's cheerful attitude that he would ask for him by name whenever he placed an order from Papa John's Pizza. The elderly gentleman's rise to internet fame began on September 14 when Valdez shared a video to TikTok of Newey delivering a pizza to his home and chatting for several minutes about the neighborhood. The response to the video was overwhelmingly positive with many TikTok users raising one common question: Why is an 89-year-old man delivering pizzas?
"Somebody at that age should not be working that much," said Valdez. Realizing that a number of his followers felt sad for his new friend, the social media star decided to set up a fundraiser for Newey. Using their popular @vendingheads TikTok name, Valdez and his wife urged netizens to take part in the "Venmo challenge" to raise a little money for the elderly pizza deliveryman in any way they could. Although they didn't expect to get anything more than a few dollars, they ended up collecting a little over $12,000. "Collectively as a TikTok community, we all came together, and we were able to raise $12,000 for this amazing person," said Valdez.
Then came the big surprise. Earlier this week, the Valdez's visited Newey at his house with a delivery of their own. "Good morning, dude! How you doing?" the TikToker greeted his friend when he opened the door. Completely unaware of what was to come, Newey believed that they were simply there to give him a t-shirt with the words "Hello, are you looking for some pizza?" on it. He could hardly believe it when moments after giving him the t-shirt, Valdez informed him of the money they'd collected for him.
"We collectively collected a gift for you, and I'm here to deliver that gift to you on behalf of the TikTok community," Valdez told Newey. However, the senior had never heard of TikTok before and didn't have a clue as to what it was. "Is that an online group you communicate with each other through the telephone?" he asked. Even as the Valdez's explained the workings of the popular platform and handed him the cheque, Newey could hardly believe that a bunch of strangers on the internet had donated money to help him out.
"How do I ever say thank you? I don’t know what to say," he said with tears in his eyes. As it turns out, Newey lives alone in his mobile home and took up the job as a pizza delivery man to make some extra money because his monthly bills cost more than his social security covered. "I work about 30 hours a week," he said. Thanks to the unexpected gift he received from his fans on TikTok, Newey may no longer need to work so hard at this age. "This couldn’t have gone any better," said Valdez. "He needed this. I’m just glad we could help him. We just need to treat people with kindness and respect the way he does. He stole our hearts."