- May 29, 2001
Iowa Hawkeyes linebacker Zach Twedt says he's changed flat tires on cars for several people stuck on the road. He doesn't do it for money or gifts, and he certainly doesn't do it for viral recognition.
"It's just the right thing to do," Twedt, 19, told the Des Moines Register.
So when he spotted Tina Gunn and her three children stuck on the side of Interstate 35, Twedt didn't think twice about stopping to help.
Gunn and her family were driving home to Nebraska from one of her sons' regional track meets in Minnesota over the weekend when their car's tire deflated. The family was just north of Story County, still more than two hours away from home, as first reported by KCCI.
Gunn says she doesn't know how to change a flat tire, so she tried to request roadside assistance through Allstate's phone app, she told the Register.
As she tried to find a phone number for the insurance company, her oldest son alerted her to a man approaching the car.
"Like this guy appeared out of nowhere, dressed in Iowa Hawkeye gear, and goes, 'Can I help you?' Long story short, his name is Zach Twedt, a football player for Iowa Hawkeyes," Gunn wrote in a Facebook post after the encounter. The post has since garnered more than 25,000 likes and 7,000 shares.
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Twedt was heading from Okoboji to Iowa City when he saw the family's car stopped just north of his hometown, Story City.
He pulled over to offer a hand, shaking off nerves about getting out of the car with vehicles rushing past on the interstate.
Gunn said Twedt changed the tire in 10 minutes.
"He finished and put stuff away and he reached out ... to shake my hand but I had opened my arms because I was going to hug him," Gunn said. "And he said, 'Oh, I take hugs, too.' And I said, 'OK, because I'm going to hug you.'"
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Twedt says changing vehicle tires was one of the many practical skills he learned growing up on a farm in Story City.
"It builds character," he said. "It's turned me into the person I am today."
Twedt is a redshirt freshman for the Hawkeyes who graduated from Roland-Story High School in 2021.
Gunn said she took to social media to post about Twedt because she wanted others to hear about his kindness. She didn't know it would get so much attention.
"The post was needed," she said. "It is chaos in our country right now and there's so much going on and a lot of it is negative. It was nice to see that someone showed some kindness."
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It wasn't just the fact that he got off at the dangerous intestate where "anything could have happened," Gunn said.
"He saw that we were in need, and he wanted to help," she said.
"I'm a total stranger and he was on his way to practice and here he felt the need to come help me and help my kids," Gunn said. "... His heart was good and in a good place."
Twedt appreciates all the kind feedback on the thousands of tweets, Facebook and Instagram comments and posts. but found it concerning that many commented things like, "I'm glad to see there's still good people in this world."
"It just makes me sad that it's come to the point in society where there's so much going on and a lot of it is negative," he said.
Twedt said he hopes his actions motivate others to pass the kindness forward. Because according to him, no one is "too good" to help change out a tire.
"If everyone could try and do their part outside of what you are in society, and simply try to be a kind human being, I feel like society would begin to be a lot better place," he said.
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Twedt and Gunn became fast friends now and keep in touch over the phone.
"I think she'll have to come to one (of the games)," he laughed. "I'll have to get her a ticket."
Gunn calls Twedt her "little brother."
In one of their recent conversations this week, "I was joking with him ... and I was saying, 'Guess what? You now have to teach me how to change a tire,'" Gunn said.
Iowa Hawkeyes football linebacker Zach Twedt stopped to help a family change a flat tire on Interstate 35 in Iowa.