DeFranzo, of Waxhaw, N.C., sent in an application for an "All-Access" pass on a whim, and while the competition in the Charlotte, N.C., area was stiff, it was a letter from his brother, Ed, that caught everyone's attention.
Ed wrote: "Through my life growing up I always looked up to my brother. As I look back on how he lives his life like my father's (who had recently past away), hard-working, always putting someone else before him and helping as many people as he can with encouragement and guidance.
"He is a firefighter for the Charlotte Fire Department, which is a selfless act, and is driven to make himself a better person everyday by helping others.
"When our dad turned sick it was a devastating blow to all of us, but during that time Paul stayed strong for them with guidance and support. Towards the ending of our father's days he took the reins in preparing our parents for the day we all wished would never come. He shows strength and courage but he is only human, and when I saw my brother break down it was like seeing our father cry and that wasn't very often.
"I see my father in my brother ... I love him very much and I think he deserves to be that person you select, for he is a leader that would always be behind someone who needed any help."
DeFranzo was stunned to learn he was on his way to the airport to hop a Quantas jet for Sydney (first class, of course). "That's awesome. I can't believe it," he told Dave.
Peter McLaughlin of Qantas promised DeFranzo an unforgettable weekend with some quality time to be spent "sucking some tinnies" (Ozzie slang for drinking beer from a can). In addition to touring Sydney's landmarks, DeFranzo, Dave and Dave's merry band of travel elves (OK, his producers) will also visit Ayers Rock in central Australia and the Great Barrier Reef in northeast Australia.
DeFranzo is also the recipient of a year's membership in Medjet, which provides emergency medical evacuation in the event a traveler is ever hurt or sick.
Before Dave gave DeFranzo his birthday surprise, he spent some time with the talented men and women of the U.S. National Whitewater Center. They put him in a life jacket, a helmet and a wetsuit and dropped him in a kayak in the middle of their rapids course.
The Center, which is right outside of Charlotte, has the world's largest manmade whitewater river, and is where world-class athletes train for competition.