When Sam and Kristi Mullins married three years ago, their lives turned into the real-life version of the “Brady Bunch,” as their five kids each from previous marriages combined to make a family of 12, all living under one roof.
“Even though we’re a blended family, we’re so close and such a tight-knit family,” Aubrey, one of the couple’s seven daughters, said.
It was their children – three boys and seven girls ages 20, 19, 18, 17, 16, 14, 13, 10 and 9 – who urged the Mount Juliet, Tenn., couple to get married, and it is the kids, only two of whom live away from home at college, who keep the couple going nonstop.
Driving the kids from school to activities, combined with traveling to their own jobs and trying to visit aging family members – a sign of the Mullins’ focus on family – has put a dent on the family’s car, a 2003 Pontiac Montana minivan with no heat, a broken gas gauge, oil leaks and alignment issues.
The family only has about four more months to use the van because it is coming due for a Tennessee state emissions test that it will likely not pass. The minivan’s aging status has not gone unnoticed by the family’s neighbors, one of whom nominated them for the “Good Morning America” Great Car Giveaway earlier this month.
“They are a faith-filled family and always see the best in everything, never complaining,” Samantha Dial wrote to “GMA” of her neighbors. “They are the type of people who would feel like someone else is more deserving than them and would definitely pay the blessing forward ten-fold.”
Dial told “GMA” that, although both Sam and Kristi are employed – he by the state of Tennessee as a financial aid counselor and she as a housekeeper – their income allows for no room to purchase a new vehicle or make the necessary fixes to their minivan.
“Getting a new car for the Mullins family would take the weight of the world off their shoulders,” Dial said.
That weight was lifted today on “GMA” when the Mullins were revealed as the second of three lucky winners in the giveaway to get a new 2014 Mazda.
“GMA” special correspondent Melissa Rycroft showed up at the Mullins’ home where Sam was inside busily getting ready for his day, unaware that his friends, family and neighbors were gathered outside, with a car, to surprise him.
“Oh, no way. Oh, my God. What the what?,” Mullins said as he saw Rycroft and the crowd.
As Mullins came out of his house, the gathered crowd parted so he could see Dial pulling up in his new, red Mazda CX5.
“It’s got a big red bow on it,” he said. “I feel like a big deal.”
Before Mullins could drive away in his new car, however, he expressed disbelief that his kids were at home on a school day.
“First of all, my kids are supposed to be at school,” he said.
Then Mullins had a very crucial question, signaling how old the car he was used to driving – his 2003 minivan – really was.
“How does this even work,” Mullins asked, pointing to his new car’s keyless ignition.