Tony Sandleben, WANECopyright 2018 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved.
Cielo Paniagua is going into her second year of nursing school at Ivy Tech. She is a single mother who is the head of her household that also includes her mother and grandmother. Her car broke down a few months ago and she has not been able to get it fixed or replaced.
She borrowed a friend’s car to get to Foster Park for what she thought was just going to be a celebration for her and some of her peers. A local organization, Latinos Count, presented several students with a $500 scholarship, but for Cielo there was more.
“I’m going to give you the keys to this car,” said Executive Director of Latinos Count Steve Corona to Cielo. Corona found someone in Fort Wayne who was willing to donate a used 2008 Ford Taurus. It was given to her free of charge. Cielo was in disbelief.
“This is the biggest surprise I have ever gotten so this is amazing,” Cielo said.
Her daughter is about to start kindergarten in August. Corona felt her story alone was enough to get this car.
“She sent me a nice thank you note and she didn’t ask for a car, but I learned a little bit about her life, enough for me to say ‘I need to do a little bit more’ beyond the $500 from our organization. I needed to use my network in town to help one person get through life,” Corona said.
Meanwhile, Cielo says this opens up the opportunity for her to continue to look out for both herself and her daughter.
“I feel amazing. I feel like a barrier was just broken in my life that would keep me from just taking care of my little girl,” Cielo said.
She is still not sure how she is going to tell her mother and grandmother, but she could not contain her disbelief at Foster Park, saying this stuff only happens to people on TV.