Hometown Holiday Helpers: Couple raises grandson while tackling health troubles

Liz and David Gravley get a special visit from the meteorologists
Published: Nov. 24, 2022 at 2:49 PM EST|Updated: Nov. 24, 2022 at 3:32 PM EST
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HILLSVILLE, Va. (WDBJ) - The stress of the holiday season mixed with financial burdens can be a lot for anyone to juggle. It’s even harder when you’re also battling health issues. It’s often easy to forget one person’s shopping spree is another family’s food on the table.

Each Christmas season, Your Hometown Station looks through the nominations and searches for someone in need of a $700 gift card. Meteorologists Brent Watts and Leo Hirsbrunner found a deserving couple in Carroll County and made the trip to Hillsville to share their story.

Before the first knock we could hear Abby, the family’s dog, greeting us from behind the door already decorated with a snowman for the holidays.

Sitting down with Liz and David Gravley, and their grandson Zaiden, it became instantly clear family comes first. But while most dream of checking multiple items off their holiday wish lists this time of year, the Gravleys are trying to hold everything together through the winter months.

“We’re just country people. No fancy clothes or jewelry. We’re just your everyday people trying to make it,” comments Liz.

The couple has been married for nearly 40 years, raised 3 children, and now have 8 grandchildren, including Zaiden, who now lives with the couple full-time.

Zaiden shows off his trampoline tricks to photographer Rob.
Zaiden shows off his trampoline tricks to photographer Rob.(WDBJ7)

David dabbles in designing birdhouses on the side. He gives away more than he actually sells. Liz dreams of having a cabin in the woods someday, but is content inside the family’s modest home. Zaiden is just as happy showing off his trampoline tricks to our photographer Rob during our visit with the family.

The past few years have been extra tough for the Gravleys. Last year, COVID triggered David’s Lyme’s disease he contracted from a tick bite, after his many years working for a tree-trimming company. David has spent the past 14 years working all over the East Coast, trimming trees and helping communities recover from natural disasters such as ice storms and hurricanes, often spending weeks of time away from family. His constant joint pain has left him unable to climb trees and currently out of work.

This past August, Liz’s health took a turn for the worse. After collapsing on the front porch, she was rushed to the hospital for heart issues.

“I woke up, my head was in the floor and they were getting me up,” recalls Liz.

Liz was flown to UVA Medical Center, where she was given a defibrillator and continues to show improvements.

Then, there’s young Zaiden, who became a permanent part of the couple’s life when they took custody of him five years ago. You might say Zaiden is the glue that holds the family together through it all, and the compassionate kid that keeps the couple young at heart.

With Liz and David unable to work right now, any gift would be a blessing for the holidays. And you might think $700 would go a long way, but the couple just spent that much filling up their outdoor oil tank to keep them warm through the winter months.

The family recently spent $700 filling up an oil tank to stay warm during the winter.
The family recently spent $700 filling up an oil tank to stay warm during the winter.(WDBJ7)

Even through all their hardships the past few years, the Gravleys are grateful for all they have. “We’ve always been humble and we never feel deserving, but thank you,” says Liz. “It will help us get some gifts and pay off some bills.”

If you would like to nominated someone for Hometown Holiday Helpers, visit this link and nominate someone deserving of $700 from Your Hometown Station.