Single mom wins car repair contest thanks to son


by TERRI GRUCA / KVUE News and Photojournalist ERIN COKER

Bio | Email | Follow: @TerriG_KVUE

Posted on April 4, 2013 at 10:25 PM

Updated Friday, Apr 5 at 7:15 AM

AUSTIN -- A single mother in Austin struggling to make ends meet won thousands of dollars worth of car repairs in a contest she didn't enter. It turns out her 13-year-old son surprised her by putting his heart on paper.

Juwon Reynaldo read the letter he wrote about his mom:

"I nominate my mom, Yolanda Garcia, a strong and determined, amazing woman. She has raised me by herself and always puts me first. She is a great inspiration to me and to many others," Reynaldo wrote.

It’s easy to feel the power of words when they come from the heart.

"Her dream is for me to go to UT Austin when I graduate high school to fulfill my dream of being an architect," he said.

Reynaldo wrote this letter about his mom in hopes of paying her back with $6,000 worth of repairs from Aamco.

"Hers was very touching because, of course, it was her son who wrote in to us,” said Allan Nuurenberg, owner of the Austin Aamco. “He pretty much told us what a great mother she was and all the sacrifices she made."

"Words cannot describe," said a teary-eyed Garcia.

To fully understand what this means you need to know the road Garcia and her son traveled to get here.

"I almost lost him in 2008. He was in critical condition," she said.

"That was when I was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes," said Reynaldo.

Garcia made a promise: If Reynaldo survived, she'd do everything she could to help him succeed. As a single working parent she struggled to make ends meet. At one point Garcia lost her job, nearly ending up on the streets.

"We slept in our car many nights," said Reynaldo.

Garcia persevered.

"My mom acquired a new job,” he wrote. “But we are barely making ends meet."

Between her work and volunteering, their 1998 Toyota Camry surpassed the 200,000 mile mark which is why this contest couldn’t have come at a better time.

"I probably would have lost my job, my car was going to go out any minute now. I haven't had the money to take care of it," said Garcia

But this is the gift that keeps giving.

"What we did was only a small portion of what we'll get back," Nuurenberg said.

After two days and a laundry list of repairs, Garcia finally gets the keys then makes a promise to pay it forward.

"It's all about giving back and setting an example for my son," said Garcia.

With her car now repaired Garcia plans to do more missionary work around town. KGSR and Aamco plan to hold two or three more local car repair contests this year.