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Fremont mother who walks to work, given van for Christmas

Posted at 10:14 AM, Dec 31, 2019
and last updated 2019-12-31 11:14:19-05

FREMONT, Neb. (KMTV) — With four kids and no car, Rachael Howard had no choice but to wake up a little early and make the 10 minute walk to her daycare job, no matter what the weather was like.

So to get to work, she'd 'suit up' herself, and her two year old child.

"I wouldn't really try to miss any days cause, you know single mom, you have to work everyday,” says Rachael Howard.

Her boss took notice, eventually sharing her story with the owner of Fremont Auto Center, who was giving away a vehicle to one person in need.

It was tough but eventually for Aaron Paden and his friend and business owner Chris Menn, one story stood out, Rachael's.

"Gainfully employed, working hard, single mom, doing the best she can," says Chris Menn, owner of C-R Menn Concrete.

"Walking to and from work, rain or shine, and just needed a break so we wanted to help her out,” says Aaron Paden.

Two days before Christmas, they shocked Rachael, handing her the keys to a van she could call hers.

"I'm like 'you're joking' and so I look at my boss and her eyes were watering and she shook her head yes at me and they weren't joking,” says Howard.

Along with the Honda Odyssey, there were four bicycles, presents, gift cards, cash and even food for Christmas dinner.

"That was the biggest surprise ever. I've never won anything,” says Howard.

Paden, who just opened up his dealership this year, was just as surprised that over a dozen other businesses stepped up. The whole ordeal put him in the holiday spirit, like he never imagined.

"I didn't realize how big of a deal it was until we got closer to actually doing it. And for her to not have to walk, like today, to walk in the snow this morning, with a two year old, it just makes a guy feel good,” says Paden.

So after years of walking, and relying on rides from friends, Rachael now has a set of wheels to do the simple tasks in life, like taking her kids to the doctor and running to the store.

"Even going to the grocery store, I'm crying because, I can go to the grocery store without having to call for a ride,” says Howard.

After this year's success, Paden says he plans to giveaway another vehicle next holiday season.