CHARLOTTE, N.C. (QUEEN CITY NEWS) – On the 2900 block of The Plaza, it seems everybody knows Tommy.
To know him is to know his heart.
“He’s probably one of the most genuine, sincere human beings that I’ve ever met,” said Jackie DeLoach, owner of Hattie’s Tap & Tavern.
Tommy Neelon has operated The Happy Hound hot dog cart outside the bar for the past two years.
“Mondays through Saturdays from 11-3 except Tuesdays and Wednesdays until 2,” Neelon said.
A rare eye disease robbed him of most of his vision but hasn’t stolen his spirit and selflessness.
“The thing is, I help people out, and this is the money I use to help people out,” Neelon said. “I always help people out. I feed the homeless. If you walked by and want a hot dog, you don’t have any money, so what?”
The tables turned Wednesday morning, and the community sprang into action to help him.
“Somebody stole my hot dog cart,” he said.
Surveillance footage shows someone stealing his cart from the side of Hattie’s at 4:30 in the morning.
“They b-lined it across the parking lot coming from the VFW area,” DeLoach described. “They just went right across the parking lot straight to that cart and was there for like three to five minutes and was gone.”
The person rolled the cart down the street, and it hasn’t been seen since.
“For it to happen to someone like that, it’s just really disappointing,” Deloach said.
But here’s where this story gets good.
Within 24 hours of posting what happened on social media, DeLoach says the community blew past a fundraising goal to help Tommy get back on his feet.
They raised $6,000.
“When I showed him the number that we were at, he was about to cry,” DeLoach said. “He’s just one of those guys who never lets people do things for him.”
On top of that, Deloach says Lowes wants to build a safer storage spot for Tommy’s next cart, which he’ll hopefully have up and running in a few weeks.
As for the man responsible for the theft, if he wanted something, all he probably had to do was ask.
“Do I hate him? No,” Neelon said. “Am I mad at him? Hell, yeah! But forgive and forget, I guess.”