WICHITA FALLS (KFDX/KJTL) — A local father is on the road to recovery after the battle of his life took away what he loves doing.

2020 was a tough year for Michael Rodriguez.

“I was working in healthcare, the state hospital,” Christmas Came Early Recipient Michael Rodriguez said. “I caught COVID and ended up on a ventilator. I was not turned or rotated, so I developed bed sores, and they got infected up into my spine and into my sciatic nerve and just started having its way at it.”

The nerve damage has left Michael struggling to walk and unable to work. These past two years have been tough for Michael, but they also have been tough for his family.

“Physically, to watch him,” Michael’s wife Melanie said. “Emotionally to see him go through these things, it’s been really tough, and he still has been so strong throughout it and has never given up. He was telling his doctors yesterday ‘I’m always up for a challenge,’ and he really is.”

But through all of this, Michael has never stopped helping people. He’s helped people when their cars have broken down, and he says he’d give his shirt off his back or the shoes off his feet to help.

It’s because of that we decided to surprise him while he was at lunch with his family as our next Christmas Came Early recipient.

“Hello,” Hamilton Bryan’s Steve Fairchild said. “Hi, Steve Fairchild with Hamilton Bryan. Someone nominated you and said you need a Christmas Came Early. On behalf of Hamilton Bryan and Channel 3, we’d like to give you $300.”
“Thank you, God bless,” Michael said.
“You’re more than welcome,” Steve said. “I heard you are a great guy.”
“I try to be,” Michael said.
“Merry Christmas to you, sir,” Steve said. “Thank you, Merry Christmas,” Michael said.

Michael admits he was surprised to see all of us, but when his wife went in to get him to come out, he, of course, came out because he thought someone needed help.

“I was kind of thinking someone else might have broken down or needing help or something,” Michael said.

Ultimately, Michael hopes there will be more people willing to help.

“I believe that everybody needs help, in one form or another,” Michael said. “I just try to do my best to meet those needs of other people.”

If there were more people like Michael, maybe this world would be a better place.

We just have a few Christmas Came Early gifts left, so if you know someone that is deserving of this, click here.