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Car giveaway makes Christmas wish come true

By Melissa Crowe
Dec. 24, 2012 at 6:24 a.m.
Updated Dec. 25, 2012 at 6:25 a.m.

Cristina Navarro, 31, smiles with her children, Dylan and Sidney Naranjo, 11 and 8, in their new 2010 Honda Accord donated by Pro-Care Collision.

For more information on Recycled Rides, visit http://www.recycledrides.org

Sidney Naranjo's feet couldn't reach the floorboard, let alone the gas pedal, but she wore a toothy grin as she gripped the leather steering wheel and ran her fingers across the console for the first time on her mother's new car.

The shy, Justin-Bieber-loving 8-year-old reached up a sequined-clad arm to pull back the sun roof cover. That part is her favorite, she said.

Her mother, Christina Navarro, 31, of Victoria, laughed as her daughter, son and niece each bargained for the chance to drive the new 2010 Honda Accord - when they're old enough.

"Give me those keys," Navarro told her son. "He's ready to be in the driver's seat."

Even after sitting in the driver's seat and holding the keys, Navarro was in disbelief of her new vehicle.

"Really? Are you sure it's true?" she asked herself. "So many things have gone wrong."

The car was donated through the National Auto Body Association's Recycled Rides program, said Clay Sallis, the owner of Pro-Care Collision.

Pro-Care organized a special key ceremony Friday afternoon for Navarro and her family.

This year, Pro-Care gave away three vehicles. The other two went to San Antonio drivers. Sallis said his goal next year is to donate six cars.

Along with the Honda, Navarro and her children received new toys and $900 worth of gift cards.

"It's awesome. It's amazing," she said.

The Ronald McDonald House called her earlier this month with the good news.

Her son, Dylan Naranjo, 11, said it's been easier waiting for Christmas.

He said his mother always signs up for giveaways and prizes, but she never wins. Friday was a game changer.

"It's hard to wait for something like this," he said. "I got up this morning and was running around the house shouting, 'We're getting a new car!'"

He said he hopes the vehicle will make things easier on his mother.

"I think it'll make it where my mom won't be stressed with gas and the tires," Naranjo said.

A few years ago, a flood on Gail Street ruined Navarro's 2005 Dodge Caravan.

Now, the parts are rusted, the gauges are broken and the doors are always locking up, she said.

As the van deteriorated, Navarro relied on her mother and friends to help with driving.

Since Medicaid stopped helping with gas, her budget has been hit hard. She makes regular trips to San Antonio and Houston to take Sidney to doctors appointments.

Sidney was born 24-weeks premature and weighed 1 pound, 10 ounces. She had a grade 4 brain hemorrhage and later developed cerebral palsy and a buildup of fluid on her brain called hydrocephalus.

Sidney's condition makes it difficult for her mother to take on work.

"It's made a big impact on our family," she said.

This is Sidney's first year in full-time school. She's a first-grader at Crain Elementary School.

"We're thankful for her every day," Navarro said. "She wasn't supposed to walk. She wasn't supposed to talk. At one point, they were saying 'vegetative state.'"

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