The growing phenomenon of Twitter philanthropy got a boost on Friday in Tennessee when a multimillionaire handed a disabled combat veteran the keys to a new car and a check for $10,000.
Bill Pulte drove the Chevy SUV from Chicago to Murfreesboro, Tennessee on Thursday night to give to Lena Ramon, who served two combat terms in Iraq.
He promised last week on Twitter that he would spend $30,000 on a veteran if Donald Trump retweeted him – just the latest in a series of giveaways that he estimates will total at least $100,000 by the end of the month.
'I actually thought President Trump would do it,' Pulte said Friday. Trump did, tweeting, 'THANK YOU BILL!!!'
The investor and grandson of a homebuilding firm is now CEO of Pulte Capital. He surprised Ramon at a children's hospital in Murfreesboro, where her daughter was having surgery.
'It's overwhelming and I feel like I'm still in a dream. Right now I don't want to wake up,' Ramon said.
She sustained a traumatic brain injury in the Army and is now 100 per cent disabled. She has been walking to get her groceries and taking Ubers to VA hospitals.
A foster child until age 18 after her mother passed away from breast cancer when she was 8, she later married a man who was abusive.
Until January Ramon and her son and daughter were homeless and 'eating out of cans,' according to Gretchen Smith of Code of Vets, a charity that helped her get settled in an apartment.
Smith said Friday that Larry Gatlin, the country music performer, bought Ramon a set of living room furniture.
Former White House communications director Bill Shine and his wife Darla added a washer and dryer.
'We filled the apartment with an Amazon wish list, everything they needed,' said Smith.
Pulte, 31, wants to turn social media into the next big thing among billionaires who seldom see the personal impact of the money they donate to charity.
He calls himself 'Twitter’s #1 Philanthropist' and says his mission is '[g]iving to those in need to pay the necessities, food, rent, heat, etc.'
Friday's giveaway was his first in-person experience handing his Twitter-challenge money directly to a recipient.
He told DailyMail.com that he already has four billionaires interested in following his example. 'Dilbert' cartoonist Scott Adams has been among his most high-profile cheerleaders.
'This beautiful surprise to this two-time combat veteran is thanks to President Trump’s retweet of my tweet,' Pulte said. 'President Trump cares about veterans, and this gift will allow Lena, a disabled veteran, to take a car to get her groceries instead of walking.'
'We're going to hopefully do this for many, many more veterans,' he said. 'This is the least I can do, and this is least Americans can do.'
Ramon said she has been 'very disappointed' in most of the veterans charities she has contacted for help. Code of Vets stepped up.
'All these organizations that are supposed to help veterans, they didn't, and she was the only one,' Ramon said of Smith.
Sitting in the driver's seat of her new car, she choked up and spoke in halting tones.
'It's hard for me to believe somebody is this generous,' she said. 'On behalf of me and my children. I'm speechless.'
'They're going to cry. They're going to cry for joy. Happy tears, not sad tears,' she said.
'It's a dream. It's not real.'