An Arizona man has found viral fame after agreeing to fly cross country to a Vermont ski resort to attend a bachelor party for a man named Angelo — a man he has never met and was unaware of until January 7.
The intriguing saga began when William Novak, a recent father and resident of Phoenix, received an email from a name he did not recognize with the subject “Angelo’s bachelor party.”
“I was like, ‘This is weird,’” Novak told The Washington Post. “What if it’s a phishing scam?”
However, the 35-year-old, who has only been skiing once when he was a teenager on a church trip, threw caution to the wind and responded.
“All, I do not know who Angelo is,” he typed, the Post reported. “I am a Will Novak who lives in Arizona. Vermont seems like a very far way for me to travel for the bachelor party of a guy I’ve never met. That being said: [expletive] count me in! From the contents of this email, Angelo sounds tremendous and I want to help send him off in style. I hope his bride [or groom] to be, is awesome.”
Novak was surprised when the group, from New Jersey and New York, responded. The intended recipient was apparently for another William Novak that lived in the northeast and a typo had mistakenly sent the email to him. However, that didn't stop the group from inviting to the festivities at Okemo Mountain Resort.
“When they wrote back and they were like, ‘If you’re serious, we’re serious, get here,’ I was blown away. I just started cracking up laughing. I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, these guys seem insane,'” he said.
Novak, after getting the sign-off from his wife to leave her and their 10-month-old daughter to attend a weekend-long bachelor party for a stranger, told Devin Onello, the groom’s brother, and the rest of the men that he would be there.
Though when Novak went to purchase his ticket, he saw that the price for flights had nearly doubled since he last checked, to $750. Unable to afford the new ticket, Novak decided to set up a GoFundMe after friends encouraged him on Facebook to attend the event.
“I’m just the sort of person who tries to be open to things.”
“Help me go to the bachelor party of a stranger,” Novak titled his GoFundMe. He posted the link on his Facebook and then went to dinner.
By the time he and his family had finished eating, his trip was funded. And not just what he asked for. Since posting the fundraiser on Jan. 9, he has so far surpassed his $750 goal nearly five times over, earning $3,650.
People from all over started pouring in donations for the #AngelosBachelorParty fund. Others have also offered to pitch in, with one company offering Hawaiian shirts for the occasion, a Vermont bar providing locally made beer, and a tattoo artist offering to make matching tattoos, which Novak says he declined. Novak’s neighborhood in Phoenix is also sending a gift bag of locally made items.
Even Arizona Congressman Ruben Gallego and Sen. Chris Murphy of Connecticut retweeted the unusual story, prompting more responses and donations, including a private ski lesson offered by Okemo Ski + Ride School Director Chris Saylor.
Though the campaign has raked in much more than Novak asked for, he won’t be keeping the extra money.
“I just found out that the bachelor, Angelo, and his bride-to-be are expecting their 1st baby! It's a bachelor party and a baby shower! All funds raised beyond the $750 I need for the trip will go to Angelo for baby college/food/toys/whatever the baby needs fund!” Novak wrote in an update on the trending campaign. A woman at Novak’s work is also working on an Arizona-themed baby blanket for the couple.
Novak plans to fly to Boston and rent a car and drive to Okemo on Friday. He’s changed his route so he can pick up the locally made beer in Brattleboro on the way.
“I’m just the sort of person who tries to be open to things,” he said.
Novak plans to keep the story going by posting about the weekend on his social media pages.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.