The delivery truck’s engine rumbled as Lucille McKnight stood barefoot on her driveway, seven children on either side of her. Small beads of sweat collected around her petite nose, a sign that McKnight was nervous.
“This is beautiful. This is a blessing,” McKnight said. “I feel really, really blessed.”
The 50-year-old woman with mounting health problems took in her niece’s four young children in July, after their grandmother and sole caretaker, Rose Mary Modica, died in a car crash. The kids, between ages 2 and 10 at the time, were in the car.
All four were hospitalized with serious injuries ranging from a collapsed lung and a head gash to broken arms and spinal injuries. The most severely injured underwent several surgeries and was in a physical rehabilitation center until mid-November.
Within hours of the July 9 crash, McKnight was at the children’s bedsides. By then, the Modica siblings — Christine, Noel, Lennie and Herman — had been in the foster care system for three years, their mother homeless and addicted to drugs and their father incarcerated on a pending domestic battery case.
With nowhere else to go, McKnight agreed to take custody of the kids despite already having three teenagers at home, adopted in 2013 from another niece.
Inspired by her selflessness, her partner, Kyle Turpin, nominated the family last month for Walker Furniture’s giveaway.
In his nomination letter, Turpin wrote, “I truly believe that Lucy’s humanitarian efforts should be rewarded because, without her, these children would be thrown into the foster care system and separated from one another for God knows how long. Lucy McKnight has been an angel for these kids in every way.”
Enclosed in the letter, the 65-year-old Las Vegas resident included a copy of a Review-Journal story published in mid-July documenting the children’s recovery and McKnight’s decision to take in the children.
“Your coverage along with the letter helped spell out McKnight’s story,” Jackie Brett, a spokeswoman for Walker Furniture, said Thursday in an email to the newspaper.
As movers unloaded the furniture on Friday, Walker Furniture CEO Larry Alterwitz emerged from behind the truck.
McKnight, smiling and laughing, extended her arms for a hug.
“You took on a lot,” Alterwitz told her.
“It was God’s plan. He needed me, and I was there,” she said, smiling. “Everything happened at the right time.”
The company furnished the family’s entire four-bedroom home. The new furniture included a living room set, end tables, a dining table with four chairs and a bench, lamps, beds and dressers.
“She does nothing but help everyone,” her 16-year-old adopted daughter, Asianay, said through tears. “Even though she’s hurt physically, mentally, emotionally, she continues to carry on for everyone. She’s so strong, and I think she deserves this.”
McKnight, who had been holding in tears the entire morning, began to cry.
“It’s been a hard year,” she said, looking at the children. “But it’s been the best year I’ve ever had.”