Belen business donates car to needy family

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A few days ago, Roxanne Romero and Jose Ruiz had no idea if their 11-year-old car would work when it came time to take their sick 2-year-old son, Lucas, out of state for surgery.

Lucas suffers from a serious heart defect known as hypoplastic left heart syndrome and is schedule to have his third open-heart surgery this January in Aurora, Colo.

Barron Jones-News-Bulletin photo: Pete and Letisha Garcia, left, owners of Pete’s Pro Truck and Automobile Repair in Belen, stand with Jose Ruiz and Roxanne Romero, right, who won a 1998 Ford Contour after their family’s story received the most likes on the business’s Facebook page.

Living off a bit more than $700 a month, the family found it difficult paying for the repairs needed to keep the car running properly.

That is why when Romero heard about the car giveaway at Pete’s Pro Truck and Automobile Repair in Belen she immediately posted her family’s story to the business’s Facebook page — the only criteria for entering the contest.

Much to her surprise, Romero and Ruiz received a call Friday informing them they had won the 1998 Ford Contour.

“We were at Sonic getting something to drink when we got the call,” Romero said. “I started crying. I was overwhelmed with emotion.”

Romero said she was following the contest on Facebook but didn’t want to get her hopes up just in case the people at Pete’s changed the requirements for winning.

The only requirement for winning the car was simple: The car would go to the family whose story received the most likes on Facebook.

Letisha Garcia and her husband, Pete, the owners of Pete’s Pro Truck and Automobile Repair, said they decided to put contest on Facebook in the beginning of August when they first came up with the idea for the giveaway.

“We decided to put it on Facebook and let the Facebook community be involved,” Letisha Garcia said. “This way it wasn’t really us choosing, it was the Facebook community.”

Letisha said they bought the car for a minimum price from a customer who didn’t want to pay repair costs.

To get the car road ready, mechanics at the shop tackled numerous maintenance issues and performed several major repairs, such as replacing the car’s timing belt and brakes all the way around.

The Garcias will not reveal how much the shop spent making those repairs and addressing maintenance issues, but Letisha did say that without community support the project wouldn’t have been possible.

“Our goal is we wanted to make it road worthy,” she said. “We have had an amazing outpouring of support from the community.”

To go along with the car, area businesses have donated, among other items, about $400 worth of gas cards, as well as up to six months of automotive insurance.

Belen area businesses that contributed to the project were, AAA, Auto Zone, CarQuest, Charlie’s Paint and Body, Craig Tire, Discount Tire, Extreme Fitness, Farmers Insurance, Fat Sat’s Bar and Grill, Napa, O’Reilly’s, Premiere Glass and Tint and Walmart.