GREGG COUNTY, TX (KLTV) - He fought ALS, or Lou Gehrig disease for nearly two years, but sadly this week, 45-year-old Tom Wills, of Kilgore, lost that battle.
Family and close friends of Wills celebrated his life Sunday, but it was the gift for Tom that was on everyone's mind.
"That was a project car that he wanted him and his son Dakota to build together," said Jody Gooch, Wills' good friend. "We knew with his strength weakening down and that he wouldn't be able to do near what he used to do."
In June of 2008, dozens of volunteers and East Texas businesses restored a 1976 Camaro for Tom, who had a passion for cars.
"The most awesome part about it was the reason people were doing it," said Gooch. "It was from the heart and it was genuinely to help him."
When the car was finished in July, KLTV was there to capture Tom's surprise unveiling. Tom, a former race car driver, was overwhelmed by East Texans "labor of love" that he wanted to help others.
"He absolutely loved that car and just loved telling people the story about how it came about, and that it was for the Lord," said Karen Wills, Tom's wife.
"Restoring the Camaro was a big team effort by a lot of giving, caring people," said Gooch. "I would dare say we probably got a bigger blessing out of it than Tom did."
To help others, Wills donated his body to science in an effort to find a cure for other's who suffer from ALS.
"Tom wanted to help others," said Karen Wills. "Even in his death he wanted to help."
He was a true helper whose spirit and inspiration still races on.
Wills' family says his Camaro will be used to minister to others. They hope Tom's life story and battle with the disease will inspire others to keep the faith in God and never give up.