Cars are more than a luxury for many families. They’re necessary in ever-expanding cities for people to get to work, they’re a godsend for hauling around a pack of kids and they’re indispensable for those with health conditions who rely on their vehicles to get them to and from their appointments.
Barbara Brown of Grand Rapids, Michigan, needs her car for the latter reason, so when it was stolen from her on Nov. 17, it wasn’t mere inconvenience — it was a serious situation.
It happened while she left her car running to pop into a gas station for a moment. She parked it near the front doors and was inside for no more than a few minutes, but when she exited she found her car was gone.
When surveillance video was pulled up, she saw what had happened. Someone had waited for her to leave her vehicle unattended, and then they’d made off with it.
“They pulled up,” Brown told WXMI. “[The thief] got out, and he walked up to my car like it was his and just took off.”
“She was hysterical crying,” her daughter, Amber, told WXMI. “I was like, ‘Mom, quit playing with me. This ain’t nothing to joke about.’ She was like, ‘I’m serious, I’m waiting for the cops.'”
“My back, it’s got bone on bone. There’s no disc,” Brown said. “I can’t do a lot because of my disability and that was my only car to do anything, get to the doctors, get home.”
A short while later, she got news on the whereabouts of her car — but the news wasn’t good. The thief had crashed the vehicle and severely hurt himself, according to a witness who spoke to WXMI.
“When I came up, the whole corner was blocked off,” witness Earnette Rancher said of the scene. “The car was still there. … They had to extricate someone out of the car, the person that was in there. And they told us he might not make it through the night.”
With no hope of getting her stolen car back, and since according to WKFR-FM she had only property damage insurance, buying a new car on her own was not an immediate possibility. Her daughter started a GoFundMe for her in the hopes of replacing her mother’s wrecked car.
“My mother’s car was stolen from Speedway, the cops must have tracked it and there was a pursuit and it ended up ruining my mother only transportation, she is disabled and has a heart of gold,” the GoFundMe read. “She helps anyone when she can and is a very good person in general! I just pray some people have it in their hearts to help her get a car or if possible donate a car for her so she does not have to walk in the winter to take the bus to her appointments.”
Andrew Heykoop, who owns a towing business and a car lot, saw Brown’s story and felt compelled to act. He had a 2004 Chevy Malibu that he offered to her, and of course, she said yes.
“I am very blessed, I really am,” she told WXMI. “I’m really grateful too, very grateful.”
“It’s great,” Heykoop said. “It’s like Christmas Day of opening your presents to see that you can change someone’s life with just a simple kindness.”
“I hope this changes her life where she can get back and forth from the doctor’s appointments that she needs to get to,” he added, according to WOOD-TV. “That she can continue her life without being disrupted from the unfortunate events that happened of her car being stolen.”
“There’s a lot of good people out there,” Brown concluded. “That’s what that tells me. There’s a lot of good people out there that do look and see the needs of others. Saw the bad side and now here’s part of the good side that people do feel compassion.”
Brown said she cried for days after losing her car. After receiving her a new one, she’s crying again.
“Now I’m crying with happiness. This is different crying.”
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