He doesn’t do it for the attention or the recognition that he’s gotten from all over the world.
“It’s become this phenomenon,” Andrew Lumish said.
Lumish devotes his one day off work each week to helping veterans who are long gone by restoring their graves by hand.
"It's more about the families and the conflicts that they may have been in and the strife they have been in while their loved ones were away fighting on behalf of the U.S.,” he said.
Our ABC Action News team was so moved by Lumish and his work that we chose him from a year’s worth of stories on everyday heroes.
“You restore my faith in humanity,” ABC Action News Community Affairs Director Lissette Campos said while speaking to Lumish.
We surprised the “Good Cemeterian,” as he’s affectionately known at ABC Action News, with some big news at his usual Sunday spot – the cemetery.
“What I really want to tell you is that you have won the Be More Positive Award. You are the winner of this award because you are truly an everyday hero and there are a lot of people here today who want to congratulate you,” I said as I had the pleasure of delivering the news that he’d won the ABC Action News backed Be More Positive award, which will be presented at the Be More Awards on Thursday at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg.
A number of people were present to celebrate Lumish.
“I think it’s amazing what he does for these people,” said Lumish’s son, Tyler. He often helps his father restore veterans’ headstones.
Lumish’s father, Chet Lumish, said he can’t remember a time he got this choked up.
“We love him, and we’re so proud of him,” he said.
Representatives with the Tampa based small nonprofit Black Dagger Military Hunt Club presented Lumish with a hand-crafted military coin rack.
“We found it so moving that you care for vets you don’t even know,” Dave Winters with the club said.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Vincent Jackson’s wife, Lindsey Jackson, was also on-hand to thank Lumish for his work. Jackon’s foundation, Jackson in Action 83, helps military families as well.
“We’re so touched by your story. Vincent is so excited to meet you,” Lindsey Jackson said. She presented Lumish with an autographed football.
Representative from the Tampa Bay Lightning Brian Bradley as well as Tampa Bay Rays hitting coach Jamie Nelson were also there.
“We present you with a jersey. I know you’re from New York. Those definitely aren’t pin stripes,” Nelson said as he presented Lumish with a custom jersey.
“When you hear about someone taking the time to do what you do and give up their time, it’s just amazing,” said Col. Reginald Godbolt, maintenance group commander at MacDill Air Force Base.
"Thank you so much everybody. Thank you for being here. I'm at a little bit of a loss for words, which is unusual for me, but thanks, I didn't expect this at all,” Lumish said.
Over the past three years, Lumish said he’s restored approximately 400 gravesites of veterans and their family members.
"We all have a mission – a purpose in our lives and the biggest gift that any of us can have is to find it. I think I've found it,” Lumish said. "This is really great, really great, and I'm over the moon and appreciative, but I'm not going to change anything that I do. I'm still going to come here on Sundays, really quietly with all my supplies, and I'm going to look at find the veterans that need the most attention and I'm going to take care of it."