NJ business owner shocks veteran with nostalgic gift (Opinion)
A New Jersey soldier got a wonderful sentimental gift because of the kindness of the owner of an auto repair shop in Vineland. Pfc. Chris LaPortez got his dream car restored, and no, it wasn’t some high end sports car, it was a 2009 Toyota Corolla that had belonged to his late mother. As detailed in a heart warming story in the Daily Journal, his mom was only 38 when she was struck and killed by a bus in 2015 in Pleasantville. The car was the only tangible reminder he had of his mom, but it was in pretty sad shape.
LaPortez enlisted in the army and was sent to Kentucky while the car sat idle; he desperately wanted to get the car back on the road in memory of his mother, but couldn’t afford. He started a GoFundMe campaign, but failed to raise the necessary money to make the car road worthy. His aunt, Ruby Rodriguez, took to Facebook to see if any of her friends could help; Gene Mainiero of Main Auto Service in Vineland saw the plea and decided to take on the job, knowing the sentimental value the car had.
He told the Daily Journal, “It’s nice to give back, especially to the military and police,” he said. “My dad was in the military, he was from a Gold Star family. For me to give back, it’s the right thing to do.” He and his crew got to work and restored the car so that it was running again, and even added new tires and windshield wipers. LaPortez now has the keepsake of his mother, reliving the good times he had when his mom used to drive him around, radio blaring, thanks to the kindness of one man, Gene Mainiero.
The post above reflects the thoughts and observations of New Jersey 101.5 talk show host Bill Doyle. Any opinions expressed are Bill Doyle's own.