Robert and Sandra Maszak of Homewood were presented with a 2019 Chevrolet Sonic on Christmas Eve. They are the first Homewood residents to win the annual Homewood Chevy Cares car giveaway contest. The Maszaks need the car to help them care for their disabled great-granddaughter.
Two extra car doors will make a big difference for the winners of the Homewood Chevy Cares Christmas car gift this year.
Robert and Sandra Maszak care for their disabled great-granddaughter, Tori, who suffers from a rare combination of cerebral palsy and childhood disintegrative disorder. In addition to her physical disability, she suddenly started to lose cognitive ability when she was 6.
“It’s 500 days since she lost her intelligence,” Robert said before the car presentation Monday morning at the dealership. “She was able to read last year and now it’s all gone.”
He described the kinds of challenges the couple face in caring for her.
“She was up in the middle of the night. She wanted something, and she kept trying to tell me,” he said. “I could hear this soft voice coming out. I couldn’t understand.”
The Maszaks, who are in their mid-70s, found it almost impossible to get Tori into their car, a two-door 2003 Chevrolet Cavalier they bought at Chevrolet of Homewood when the dealership opened. They entered the contest hoping to win a vehicle that could accommodate Tori.
“It is a life saver,” Robert said.
The life saver is a 2019 Chevrolet Sonic — a four-door model — provided by the dealership in its fourth annual car giveaway.
Maszak said he was surprised to win the contest, which attracts hundreds of nominations from around the Chicago area. Contestants who make it to the final round submit a video providing their stories and describing how a new car would change their lives.
Maszak said he was impressed with all the finalists.
“They were all good, all needy,” he said. “I didn’t figure we had a chance.”
The committee making the selection, however, was impressed with the Maszak family’s situation.
In a Facebook live video, dealership owner Steve Phillipos conveyed the news to Maszak that his family had been selected to receive the new car. The Maszaks are the first Homewood recipients of the award.
“We read your beautiful story, about the beautiful child you’re raising, and it touched everyone’s hearts,” he said.
During the presentation, Phillipos noted the history behind the car giveaway project.
“About 10 years ago, there was a recession, and we got a second chance of life here at Chevrolet of Homewood,” he said, thanking Homewood Mayor Richard Hofeld for the village’s support during those difficult years. “We decided we’re going to try to something for everyone. We have a slogan. ‘Do you believe in miracles?’ At Chevrolet of Homewood, we truly believe in miracles.”
Phillipos said the original plan was to present the Maszaks with a 2018 Sonic, but the plan changed and the couple received a 2019 model. The dealership also paid the sales tax on the car.
Hofeld offered his congratulations to the Maszaks.
“I think it’s a wonderful thing Chevy of Homewood does,” he said, then presented the couple with a gift card to cover the first tank of gas for their new car.