Feb. 4, 2008 -- It's like an episode from the old TV show "The Millionaire," in which a man who never appeared onscreen — except for his hands — gave out shockingly large checks to people on the condition that the source of the money never be revealed.
It was a script come to life for a couple named Alissa and Barry as they ate last Thursday at Dr. Salami's Cafe in Pella, Iowa.
"He basically just came into the restaurant and just came in and started talking to us," Barry said in an exclusive interview on "Good Morning America" today. He was most interested in whether they had any children, Barry said.
After they replied that Alissa did indeed have a 2-year-old child, the man slid a check across the table and asked the couple to fill out the check with any amount they wished. The two assumed he was joking and made the check out for $100,000.
The benefactor signed the check and said, "I'm good for it," Alissa said. The next day Alissa and Barry were unsure of what they were going to do with the check.
"We're either going to throw it away or try it. Let's give it a whirl," Barry said. "[We] really didn't think it was going to happen. It's too rare for something like that to happen."
So they endorsed it and, to their stunned delight, the check actually cleared and they received the gift of a lifetime.
There were conditions on their enjoying the money. They were not to reveal their last names or to identify the source of the money. They were to use the cash to buy or build a house. And if they have a child together, they must name the child after the benefactor.
What little Alissa and Barry were willing to reveal about their newfound friend was that he is in his late 50s and said he was just passing through Pella on his way to Des Moines and had stopped to get gas. He also said he had done this before. One thing he liked to do, he told Alissa and Barry, was to wait outside a Wal-Mart and buy carts full of groceries for people. And he once bought someone a car, he claimed.
The man told them that he regretted that he had never had grandchildren, which was why he asked them to name their next child after him, Alissa and Barry said.
The couple said they will honor his request about the name. Alissa, whose birthday is today, said she hasn't decided whether she and her boyfriend will buy or build a house because they are still dealing with all that's happened.
"It's been a pretty stressful week — too much time to think about details," Alissa said.
But the man's generosity didn't end with Alissa and Barry. He tipped the waitress $100.
"I hope no one finds out who he is because that is the way he wanted it. He is just a nice guy," the waitress said. "You never know who is sitting next to. You never when you when you can make a difference in someone else's life."