The Checkers partnered with several programs -- GEICO, Caliber Collision and Veterans Bridge Home (VBH) -- to surprise Army Veteran, Shashanta Andrews, with a newly restored Nissan Pathfinder during the first intermission of Saturday’s game.
Andrews recently moved to Charlotte in hopes of finding better opportunities through her job as a home healthcare aide, in order to support her and her family.
As she was coming into Charlotte, she was startled as her car had blown a gasket.
“In our industry we sort of have a front-row seat to what it’s like for somebody when they’re out of commission for their vehicle, it can be very tough,” said Kyle Maciejewski, Regional Vice President of Caliber Collision.
This made it impossible for Andrews to provide a living for her family. Andrews was able to get into a shelter with her children and was unable to continue her beloved job.
“Without a car she had to quit her job - she was a home healthcare aide, so she needed a car to get from house to house where she was doing her work,” stated Steven Cole, VP of Advancement for Veterans Bridge Home. “She’s also got two children and the youngest has cerebral palsy, so just getting him around is difficult, especially if you don’t have a vehicle.
After hearing her story, Veterans Bridge Home nominated Andrews to receive a new car through Recycled Rides, a program from the National Auto Body Council. Caliber Collision and GEICO then joined forces to provide a car and restore it for Andrews.
“It’s a Nissan Pathfinder donated by GEICO,” said Maciejewski. “GEICO is a tremendous player in this Recycled Rides program, they’re regularly involved with giving back. It’s great to have a partnership like that. The vehicle is going to be borderline new when the recipient gets it. For this one specifically it had a little bit of damage on the front and rear, so we had teammates donate their time to repair, refinish and reassemble.”
After roughly a year of an empty arena, the Checkers were excited to help continue this program.
“To be able to get back into the arena and go through this process again is really exciting and we’re looking forward to continuing this and doing many more in the future,” said Jason Phelps, Auto Damage Claims Director with GEICO. “I think it shows the power of community and how we can all come together from multiple different industries. It makes Charlotte feel like a small community."
“It goes to show you what a community can do when it works together,” said Cole. “Everyone is doing their part to help a veteran. This program is really life-changing for the veterans who receive these vehicles.”