Local Mom Gets Surprise Gift From Stranger

By Tamas Mondovics

For Sheila Upshaw, a Brandon resident and single mom of twin girls who is battling cancer, the all-too-frequent visits to the shop to keep her car running came to a surprise end last month, thanks to the generosity of one local donor, as well as the Brandon Foundation’s Angel Program and the support of Autoway Nissan of Brandon.

Upon arriving to pick up her old car at the dealership, the 46-year-old Brandon mom, who suffers from a broken clavicle, fractures of the hips and spine caused by Stage III Multiple Myeloma and who soon found herself out of work due to the amount of pain, as well as the frequent trips for chemo and radiation therapy, received a donated pre-owned car.

“Words just can’t express how I feel,” the surprised Upshaw said, as Autoway Nissan of Brandon general manager Chris Trotti, handed her the keys to her 1998 Infinity I-30. “Thank you God. This is truly a blessing.”

“The constant worry about my car and getting around was the last thing I needed,” Upshaw said. “Especially having to take care of my girls puts a lot of stress on us.”

Trotti explained that the Brandon Foundation’s Angel Program, of which Upshaw has been a part of since last April, collaborated with Autoway Nissan of Brandon, located at 9920 East Adamo Dr. in Tampa, to find a pre-owned vehicle.

“Sheila’s old car simply couldn’t be fixed,” Trotti said, adding that the dealership’s service manager, Reno Agrue, related Upshaw’s plight to a customer, Alan Aronoff of Port Richey, who was talking about selling his old car.

“Once Mr. Aronoff heard the story and how the dealership has its own Angel Team that works with the Brandon Foundation to provide services to individuals in the community that face difficulties, he agreed to donate his car to help Upshaw and her Family,” Agrue said.

According to Angel Program, Foundation Executive Director Rich Strehl, such surprises and generosity is what the program is all about.

“We can’t always give money,” he said, but added that offering services and sometimes such donations while working with local businesses and charities to help out is what leads to such great results.

As for Upshaw, saying goodbye to her old clunker was not hard to do.

“It’s beautiful, and it’s staying on,” Upshaw said after turning the key on at the wheel. “This is Christmas, Thanksgiving and Birthday all put together. I am going to take her for a spin and take care of all my chores without the worry of breaking down at the next stop sign.”

For more information about the Brandon Foundation, call 689-6889 or visit info@brandonfoundation.com.